Hard to believe that Texas bailed Nebraska out from a potential major mistake. For some bizarre reason, Nebraska went along with a request by ESPN to move the Nebraska - Texas football game up two days to play on a Thursday night. Thankfully for fans, the University, and the city of Lincoln, Texas rejected the proposal.
When the idea of moving the game to a Thursday night, I was surprised by the reaction by fans. For distant fans, moving the game to a Thursday night means an assured national broadcast without having to worry about ABC's regional coverage, DirecTV screwing their customers out of the game, or FSN preempting the game to show a meaningless NBA exhibition game (aren't they all anyway?).
But for the rest of us? No way. Especially those of us who are actually buying tickets.
The argument can be made that the Thursday night game has the mindset of the entire college football world, and it's a compelling argument to some extent. But I'd argue that "Texas at Nebraska" will be the premier game of the weekend even on Saturday. I originally pegged this one as the ABC primetime game, but ABC has already preempted football for NASCAR on October 16th. Even so, there's likely a national window on ABC (11 am central) or ESPN (primetime) that this game will end up.
In fact, with the controversial ending of the Big XII championship game, I'm sure that Chris Fowler and Lee Corso are already making plans for Gameday in Lincoln that weekend. It also opens up an electric atmosphere for bringing recruits into Lincoln for a huge game with a huge atmosphere, especially if it's a Saturday night broadcast.
That's an environment that won't exist on Thursday night. For retired blue-hairs, there's no difference between Thursday and Saturday. But for those of us with jobs, we're racing home from work and burning vacation time to make the game, just to satisfy the ESPN programming monster. It'll be a late arriving crowd that won't be as, well, lubricated, as it almost assuredly will be on Saturday.
That late-arriving crowd hurts the Lincoln economy. That's money not spent at bars and restaurants. That's money not spent shopping. It hurts the University as well; classes will have to be canceled in the afternoon and evening to free up parking. What about the classrooms adjacent to the stadium? Heck, don't forget the Computer Science department now has offices in the former South Stadium football offices.
Tom Shatel reports that Nebraska and ESPN are talking to Kansas State about moving the October 2nd game to a Thursday. That's a road game, so it doesn't have quite the impact on Lincoln, but it's still a bad deal for Husker fans. Don't get me wrong; I like Thursday night football...for other teams. I like to have it on, then turn it off and get ready for work the next day. I don't watch Husker football like I watch other football games. It took me until 1:30 am to fall asleep after the Missouri game this year, and nearly 12:30 am after the Holiday Bowl. Midweek games are hard on the body if you have to work the next day.
We know that Nebraska is going to play Texas, and it's going to be a huge game, and I'm going to be there. We know the game is going to be televised. The only question is... will it be a great Saturday night, or a lesser Thursday evening.
Texas made the right call. Nebraska, sadly, nearly screwed this one up badly.