OSU's Smith favors indoor B1G title game

CHICAGO -- Gene Smith has advocated for more night games at Ohio Stadium, and he's warming up to the idea of November night games.

But when it comes to the Big Ten championship game, the Ohio State athletic director wants to leave his winter gear at home. Smith is among several Big Ten ADs -- Wisconsin's Barry Alvarez is another -- who want to see the league title game remain in an indoor venue.

The Big Ten in 2011 selected Indianapolis' Lucas Oil Stadium, an indoor facility, to host its first five championship games. The league also considered a bid from Chicago's Soldier Field, and Chicago will make a much stronger pitch for the game when it goes to market again.

"I love Indianapolis, it's no secret," Smith said Wednesday. "I love that facility. I love St. Elmo [steak house]. I love Ford Field, I love what Detroit has done with that Ford Field and what they're continuing to do with the area contiguous to that facility. ... I love the indoors. I'm one of those guys."

Smith went on to say he also "loves" Soldier Field but thinks it's a better venue to host neutral-site games during the regular season. Illinois and Washington will play there Sept. 14.

Other Big Ten athletic directors think an outdoor stadium would be fine for the first Saturday in December, but Smith maintains that indoor venues provide "the total package" for players, coaches and fans. Attendance for the first two Big Ten title games has been disappointing, although most fans who have made the trip to Indy came away pleased.

"You're trying to create that quality experience for all of us," Smith said. "Nice restaurants, easy to park, indoor, put your shades on. It's all good."