A Coach’s Take: The Big Ten Friday Night Lights

As an Ohio State Buckeyes Fan, I am a Big Ten follower by default. Historically the Big Ten is one of the most prestigious conferences in college football. The last decade has seen the rise of the SEC, the fall of the Big East, and creation of the Power Five conferences. With the financial implications included in these Power Five conference, competition is very tight for viewership. The Big Ten has decided to make an attempt to capitalize on the void of College Football on Friday Nights. Starting in 2017, the Big Ten conference will play six prime time games on Friday nights during September and October. To the casual fan, this means more college games on Friday nights, great right? If this is your current thinking, please stop reading and return to watching some local reality TV program. For the rest of you true football fans, here’s why this Friday Night Lights nonsense will be an epic fail:

1- Not all Big Ten teams will participate.

What’s the point of playing games on Fridays if the good teams aren’t going to participate? Penn State and Michigan have already declined to play any Friday games as it would detract from their universities tradition and overall presentation.

Michigan Wolverines Saturday Night Game Photo Credit: Tony Ding
Michigan Wolverines Saturday Night Game
Photo Credit: Tony Ding

Indiana, Wisconsin, and Michigan State Universities have each put stipulations on when and how often they would play Friday night games.That’s 35% of the league not fully committing to this for the next six years. Sounds like the teams are not fully on board about this decision. Also, the Big Ten has stated that no big stadium schools will be asked to host Friday games. This means no Friday night games at Ohio State, Nebraska, Michigan State, or Iowa since these stadiums all have capacity for over 70k people. Just from this initial information, who would even be interested in watching these games?

 

 

2-Games will put teams at a recruiting disadvantage.

Photo Credit: Blog Q Pot
Photo Credit: Blog Q Pot

High School recruits will have less opportunities to visit schools for the full Saturday experience. That Friday game played means there’s a High School player somewhere who can’t take an official visit because his team is playing at the same time as the college team. Let’s not forget about the strain this puts on the universities to scout on Friday nights. You can’t really go out scouting local High School talent if you have a game to play yourself. Every Friday night game a Big Ten team commits to is one less weekend to recruit from the team’s future roster. Teams like Minnesota do not get to use a home game against Ohio State to show recruits they play against the best on Saturdays. These teams get to be beaten by the Buckeyes on  a Friday Night and they only thing their recruits get to see is the ticker score on the bottom of their television screen as they watch college games on Saturday afternoon.

 

3-Friday Nights belong to High School Football.

Monday is for the NFL’s Monday Night Football. Tuesday and Wednesday is for middle school and Junior Varsity football. Thursday is for College football (One Pimetime game and as many mid majors a needed) and the NFL’s Thursday Night Football. Friday is for High School Football and the occasional college game (for travel and scheduling reasons). Saturday morning is for Pop Warner, and the rest of Saturday is for College Football. Sunday is for NFL Football. This is how God made the world in 7 days! Anything else is blasphemy to the sport.

Photo Credit West Bloomfield Laker Athletics
Photo Credit West Bloomfield Laker Athletics

Adding MORE college games on Fridays is the beginning of the end. Local High School depend on the fans to show up for those games to increase community support and in certain areas even help the economy. If College Football begins to take that ONE day away from High School football teams, it is the start of Football Anarchy. Making die hard fans choose between their kid’s High School team and a college game is just UnAmerican (Yea, I’m talking to you America). The Big Ten is taking a step in the wrong direction, trying to ruin an already great football watching system.

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