For the first time, the Big Ten in 2017 will play some of its games on Friday nights.
There are plenty of arguments for and against this change. For one, it provides an opportunity for some of the league’s programs to get some additional television exposure compared to playing the usual Saturday noon game that would typically get overshadowed. Other schools, namely Penn State and Michigan, were against it from the jump. Northwestern — a team the conference gave two Friday night games — was, too, and over the weekend we found out NU communicated its feelings.
The Big Ten put out its annual football prospectus on Friday and the two Northwestern games originally scheduled for Friday night — Oct. 13 at Maryland and Oct. 27 vs. Michigan State — were moved back a day to Saturday. According to the Chicago Tribune, Northwestern voiced its opposition to Friday night games to the Big Ten, and the league acquiesced.
Fitzgerald has been strongly opposed to Friday games because they can detract from high school football and disrupt his players’ class and practice schedules. Many NU fans also were outspoken in their opposition, citing Friday work schedules, traffic and the inability to have enough time to tailgate.
The league listened, with a Big Ten source saying it heard from university leadership at Northwestern regarding all the “unintended consequences” that accompany Friday night games.
Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald told the Tribune the changes to the schedule were “great news.” With those two games moved, six (just two true Big Ten games) Friday night games remain: Washington at Rutgers on Sept. 1, Utah State at Wisconsin on Sept. 1, Ohio at Purdue on Sept. 8, Illinois at South Florida on Sept. 15, Nebraska at Illinois on Sept. 29 and Iowa at Nebraska on Nov. 24. Three other Big Ten teams will open up their schedules on the night of Thursday, Aug. 31 with Indiana hosting Ohio State and Minnesota kicking off its non-conference slate at home against Buffalo.
In the future, ESPN.com is reporting, that number will decrease:
The Big Ten plans to scale back its plans for Friday night football games moving forward after hearing from a long list of parties affected by the change.
A conference official told ESPN on Monday that moving forward, the league is likely to scale back even further to two or three Friday night games after the opening week per year.
Early on, Fitzgerald pointed to high school football as a primary reason he was against Friday night games. Penn State, when the Big Ten announced the games, said it would not host Friday night games because of the impact those games would have on high school football in Pennsylvania.
“We know how important Friday night high school football is to hundreds of communities across the Commonwealth. In addition, we have considered the impact that a Friday night home football game would have on key community stakeholders,” PSU’s statement said.
Now the Big Ten will reportedly link up with its television providers to try to figure out the best solution moving forward. Leaders from the high school football community will be involved, per ESPN:
The Big Ten has plans to bring its television partners together with many of its members and the high school athletic association directors from the 11 states within its footprint in the near future to discuss ways to mitigate the negative effects that playing on Fridays might have.
Weeknight games have typically been a way for Group of Five conferences to gain as much exposure as possible, with the MAC gloriously leading the way (miss you, #MACtion).
The Big Ten’s intentions were certainly understandable and not meant to overshadow conferences like the MAC, but with it already reconsidering its approach, it seems like the Big Ten may not have completely weighed the pros and cons.
More college football from Yahoo Sports:
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