Scott Dochterman of the Cedar Rapids Gazette raised a bit of a furor on this side of the Missouri River by suggesting that the Nebraska-Iowa football game could move off of the Friday after Thanksgiving.
"We haven’t seen the schedule yet, (we) haven’t done it yet," said Mark Rudner, the Big Ten’s senior associate commissioner for television administration. "It could be Iowa-Minnesota in the last week. Nebraska-Wisconsin. We just don’t know."
Many people thought that Iowa and Nebraska had agreed to play on Black Friday moving forward, but it turns out that's only if the game is scheduled to be played on Thanksgiving weekend. And that's apparently not assured.
The response from Iowa? Meh.
The response from Nebraska? Pretty strong, though it's not so much about playing Iowa. It's about playing on Black Friday period.
Some people feel that playing on Black Friday is a Nebraska tradition. Truth is that if it's a tradition, it's a relatively recent tradition. Many people think Nebraska/Oklahoma when they think of Black Friday, but those teams rarely met on Black Friday. The Game of the Century in 1971? Thanksgiving Day. Game of the Century, Part II in 1986? The week before. That classic 1978 Billy Sims-fumbles-at-the-three-yard-line/Kelly-Phelps-knocked-unconscious game? Two weeks before Thanksgiving. Nebraska and Oklahoma have only played ten times on Black Friday.
Who has Nebraska played the most on Black Friday? Colorado. (15 times) And looking forward, Iowa would be the opponent seven times, barring any future schedule changes.
Here's your question, Husker fans: Do you really consider anything involving Colorado and Iowa to be some sort of tradition?
There is one good reason to play on Friday: no other Big Ten games that day. There are other college football games that day, though, so it's not like Nebraska gets unfettered television coverage. LSU/Arkansas usually play that day, and there are a handful of other games. But now that ABC has started to dictate 11 am start times for this game, even that's not much of an advantage.
The downside is that some fans don't get the Friday after Thanksgiving off. Financial markets are open, as are every retail establishment in the country. So this game is more inconvenient for those fans, many who wouldn't even be able to use vacation time.
The Big Ten has thrown out Wisconsin as a possible opponent. That certainly would be a bigger name matchup nationally, though the holiday would make it more difficult for fans to travel to an away game. Would Madison be quite the same place if many of the students were watching at home instead of inside Camp Randall?
Personally, the luster of a "big" matchup Thanksgiving weekend lost something when the conference championship games came to be. When Nebraska and Oklahoma met, the trophy typically went to the winner. That doesn't happen until the week after now. And with Michigan/Ohio State that same weekend, any Nebraska game on Thanksgiving weekend won't get the attention it deserves. So why not play those "big" games another weekend when it can be the "B1G Game of the Week"?
Who should Nebraska play the last week of the season? And should the game be on Friday or Saturday?