2025's Grambling-Ohio State Game Must Stay Off Peacock

2025's Grambling-Ohio State is a seminal moment in college football but it is in danger of becoming streaming service inventory on Peacock.

Grambling will receive over $1 million to visit Ohio State
Source: Grambling State University

Bill Willis and Tank Younger are two pioneers who do not get the credit they deserve. In 1946, Bill Willis and Marion Motley suited up for the All-American Football Conference's Cleveland Browns, becoming the first Black players to play professional football after the NFL instituted a "gentlemen's agreement" banning Black players from the league.

Three years later, Tank Younger became the first NFL player from an HBCU (Historically Black Colleges and Universities) putting little Grambling College on the map when he signed with the Los Angeles Rams. Countless legends such as Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Ken Houston, and Walter Payton followed in his footsteps, making a name for their respective HBCUs through their NFL exploits.

In 2025, Willis and Younger's alma maters will face off. Ohio State canceled its series with UConn to schedule Grambling. Two of college football's most influential brands will face off for the first time. Already, this is a keystone event for the 2025 season. Due to the significance of this game, the Big Ten needs to protect it from the greed of TV executives.

The game may be over a year away, but there is legitimate concern that Peacock could air the game. NBC and the Big Ten may view moving Grambling-Ohio State to Peacock as a marketing tactic showing that a game of this stature could increase the struggling streaming service's subscriber numbers. However, doing this hurts fans, mostly younger fans.

The Grambling-Ohio State game can educate younger fans on Grambling's substantial contributions to college football. The right amount of production and promotion could make this a fitting tribute to Eddie Robinson and Paul Brown, who recruited Bill Willis for their contributions to Black participation in college football. Younger fans may see Grambling as nothing more than a small school, but a showcase game against Ohio State would remind them of their importance to the game. Without pioneering quarterbacks from Grambling like Doug Williams or James "Shack" Harris, there likely would not be a Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson.

Furthermore, a move to Peacock underscores the importance of this game. At their height in the 1960s and 1970s, Grambling and Ohio State were both at their peak. This crossover allows college football fans to finally see two of college football's most impactful meet on the field. Treating this like "just another FBS vs. FCS game" is incredibly disrespectful to Grambling's contributions to college football.

CBS and NBC both want to be involved in broadcasting HBCU sports.
NBC enters the 34th year of its partnership with the Bayou Classic this year, and its family of networks has broadcasted Howard's Truth and Service Classic and the HBCUNY Classic. Next year's Grambling-Ohio State game could serve as an advertisement for the Bayou Classic if NBC televises it, bringing more casual television viewers. Instead of relegating Tennessee State-Notre Dame to Peacock, the clash between those two prevailing brands was front and center on NBC. Ohio State and Grambling should receive similar treatment.

Since 2022, the HBCU All-Star Game for men's basketball has aired on CBS during Final Four weekend. Airing Ohio State-Grambling would be a fantastic reaffirmation of CBS' commitment to HBCU Sports. CBS is willing to air Akron-Ohio State, so why shouldn't they air Grambling-Ohio State?

Grambling-Ohio State is in danger of falling prey to the greed of conference and TV executives. Not a single fan wins if Peacock streams Ohio State-Grambling. Furthermore, the game becomes a formality when it is a long-overdue tribute to two of college football's most impactful programs.