Is this the end of "Black Friday" football for Nebraska? According to the Lincoln Journal-Star, it may be. Only the first two Iowa/Nebraska games were scheduled for Black Friday, and next year's game is scheduled for Saturday, November 30th. Nebraska would love to play next year's game on Friday the 29th.
Iowa apparently does not. And without Iowa's permission, the game can't be moved.
Many Husker fans will be disappointed by this; some won't be. Frankly, if you are one of the many people who get the Friday after Thanksgiving off as a paid holiday, you probably like the game on Friday...but that's not as many people as you might think. Certainly people in retail don't get the day off; in fact, you probably couldn't even take the day off as vacation. Financial markets were open for business as well. Those people probably prefer the game on Saturday as well. And hardcore shoppers probably would prefer to not have to get their bargain shopping done before the game as well.
The advantages of playing on Black Friday might be overstated. Nebraska will enjoy an additional day of rest prior to next week's Big Ten championship game, as Wisconsin is playing Penn State today. Iowa didn't appreciate the shorted practice week for the Black Friday game, though. (And that extra day of preparation didn't give Nebraska much of an advantage in title games against Oklahoma in 2006 and 2010.)
Here's a stat that may surprise Husker fans: Nebraska's most common opponent on "Black Friday" is not Oklahoma.
The "Game of the Century" in 1971? Played on Thanksgiving Day.
That's classic Billy Sims fumble game in 1978, when John Ruud nearly decapitated Kelly Phelps? Two weeks before Thanksgiving.
The "tradition" of playing of playing on Black Friday is barely older than the Tunnel Walk...which doesn't make it much of a tradition IMHO. Nebraska didn't start playing regularly on the Friday after Thanksgiving until 1990. Prior to that, Nebraska only played 3 times on Black Friday: 1973 (losing 27-0), 1976 (losing 20-17), 1977 (losing 38-7), and 1982 (winning 28-24).
So that's 10 games against Oklahoma, 14 against Colorado, and now two against Iowa.
Frankly, that's not much of a tradition. Frankly, from my perspective, I'd rather play this game on Saturday than Friday. My wife is one of those that has to take vacation on Black Friday, so that's a day of vacation we could use for something else.
Some observe that Nebraska gets additional exposure with the game on Friday. That's debatable. Yesterday's game was an 11 am kickoff time; west coast fans may have been still shopping or still in a turkey coma at kickoff. (The game didn't do much to change that either.) ESPN and ESPNU also had games on simultaneously; that's not an "exclusive" timeslot. The 2:30 pm timeslot has become even more crowded, with games yesterday on CBS, Fox, and FX. With games spread across the entire holiday weekend, there simply weren't many games televised today regionally. (The only ones I'm aware of are BTN's 11 am games with Northwestern/Illinois and Indiana/Purdue.)
Frankly, when all is said and done, I don't see much of an advantage in playing this game on Black Friday. Except of course, for Iowa fans to be able to put football season behind them one day sooner.