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Big Ten Feigns Surprise at Friday Night Football Fiasco

Jim Delany - Big Ten Baseball

As part of the Big Ten’s conference meetings this week, conference officials met with representatives from state high school associations to discuss the conference’s plan to play a limited number of college football games on Friday nights beginning this fall. The Big Ten’s goal was not only increase revenue, but also increase exposure by moving games from the crowded 11 am timeslot.

The problem with that plan is that during football season, Friday night is traditionally the night that high schools play. Fans know that, journalists know it. College coaches seem to know it. But the Big Ten’s administrators apparently didn’t, according to Land of 10’s report.

“They did not expect the blowback that the Big Ten got on Friday nights.”

In fairness to the Big Ten, they’ve probably noticed that the ACC, Big XII and Pac-12 have dabbled in Friday night games in the past, so it must be OK with their fans. Right?

Wrong. It’s just as despised in those conferences as it is in the heartland. Here’s Manie Robinson of the Greenville (SC) News:

But the new scheduling pattern exhibits the priority of college football leagues.

It is their generous but intrusive television partners, not their fans and evidently not even their member schools.

I find it humorous how the Big Ten suggests that by announcing these games ten months in advance, that high schools can simply adjust. Adjust how? Move more games to Thursday night? Not exactly a great idea with classes on Friday. Move games to the now vacated Saturday? More likely - especially if the University would consider opening up Memorial Stadium for high schools to use that day.

And yes, it’s clear that the Big Ten still intends to have Nebraska host a game in Memorial Stadium on a Friday night in the 2018 or 2019 season. It’s unclear when that would be, as Nebraska apparently hasn’t put nearly as many restrictions on when as Wisconsin or Iowa have. My guess is that it would be in mid-October; it’ll be interesting to keep an eye on when the mid-semester break is scheduled in future years. This fall, NU’s fall break occurs on a Monday and Tuesday; look for it to include a Friday in a future year. That would eliminate the inevitable conflicts between parking for classes and parking for fans.