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Big Ten, Delany gathering feedback on Friday night football games

Would the conference consider moving games to what is typically considered sacred high school football game territory?


After expressing reluctance for years, we know the Big Ten is becoming more open to the idea of more night games, even later in the season during the cold weather. According to this report from the Wisconsin State Journal, Delany may be kicking the tires on another possible move – the occasional game on a friday night.

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is trying to get feedback to be used in negotiating the next series of TV deals for the league. The current contracts run through 2016 (with Fox for the conference football championship game) and '17 (with ESPN and ABC for regular-season games).

If the networks want Big Ten games on Friday nights - a slot traditionally reserved for high schools - Delany wants to know where his constituents stand and an idea of what a commitment like that would be worth.

The reasoning behind this is pretty clear, as Friday night football could represent highly attractive programming inventory for a network partner, and could help give the league additional exposure nationwide, especially for some of the programs that may not regularly be in the mix for Saturday prime time consideration. With Thursday nights typically reserved for SEC, ACC, and even Big 12/Pac-12 matchups, a Friday night showcase might also represent a unique market inefficiency to potentially capitalize on.

This might not be a resounding win though, as Friday nights around Big Ten country are typically reserved for high school football. Not only would a Friday night Buckeye (or Badger, or Spartan, etc) game put fans in the tight spot of having to chose between games, but it could also rob college coaches of the ability to watch recruit's games. Plus, how could a high school recruit go to a game if he's supposed to be playing in his own game a few towns away?

Even if this does come to fruition, it would likely be several years away, and Andy Baggot of the WSJ wrote that he believed the games wouldn't be an annual event. The Big Ten isn't total strangers to Friday night action; Michigan State opened each of the last two seasons on Friday, and Indiana and Minnesota have done it recently as well.

For what it's worth, while I'm not  opposed to the league looking beyond Saturday for the occasional game, I'd hope that the league reconsiders before compromising one of the great traditions of the midwest, small town high school football.