There will be more Friday football in the Huskers' future. The good kind. Black Friday football that everyone in Nebraska seems to want. Not the bad kind, like last year's Nebraska-Illinois game.
Those games in 2020 and 2021 will be against Minnesota, which will be a little different, but they will be on the Friday after Thanksgiving according to Athletic Director Bill Moos.
"We couldn't get the Minnesota thing turned around," Moos said on Husker Sports Nightly on Monday, "so in 2020 and 2021 we will play on Friday, but it'll be Minnesota, which is fine.
When the Big Ten released those schedules last September not only was Iowa not on the schedule but the traditional Black Friday slot was gone, too. It became a whole thing and Moos realized quickly upon arrival in October that this was a relatively easy fix that would make a lot of people happy.
So he made it happen. Getting those two Minnesota games on Friday is just the first phase. While nothing is set in stone yet, it looks like the new tradition of playing Iowa that day is coming back, too.
"When I got here there were a couple of things I went straight to, and that was Black Friday to secure the rivalry with Iowa," Moos said. "I know there's a bit of one now, but that needs to be our rivalry. It's easy enough for our fans to go to each place and once we came to the Big Ten we didn't have a traditional rival. That's going to be in the works. That will be scheduled long after I'm gone, and I mean on the face of the earth."
That's all fine and good, but Moos teased some potentially bigger news on last night's show.
"We might have some other schedule news here in a week or so in regards to from 2022 on. [It's] something I really became a bulldog on in regards to Nebraska and some of the traditional power programs in the Big Ten not beating each other up so bad," Moos said. "In my opinion, the strength of schedule hasn't really had that much impact on who's being selected for the College Football Playoff. We're in the process of addressing that, hopefully to my and others' satisfaction."
What's that mean? We might have to wait the "week or so" to find out, but Moos made it seem like any change might have to do with how crossover games are scheduled.
"In recent years those crossovers have pitted the powerhouses against each other on a consistent basis," Moss said. Based on his previous quote, it's clear he doesn't see the upside to that when it comes to earning a CFP spot.
If that's what coming, it'll be very interesting to see the Big Ten's messaging on that (if there's any message at all). How does a conference say, "We're consciously choosing to have our best programs play less often"? It makes strategic sense (and thus financial sense), but fans like big games. Would you rather see Ohio State in Memorial Stadium, even if it meant greater potential for a loss, or Rutgers and greater probability for a win?
Anecdotally, it seems like most fans would choose the former.
Of course what the Big Ten could do, and in many ways this is a lot easier, is just go back to eight conference games. That automatically removes one crossover game (a particular advantage for teams in the West given the current power balance), allows schools more control over their schedule and, this is really the key here, provides a boogeyman to blame it all upon. The SEC and ACC only play eight conference games, so if the Big Ten returns to that it's all tied up in a "leveling the playing field" bow.
And that's not inaccurate. Playing eight conference games is an advantage for a conference as a whole for the obvious reason (half the teams each year replace a loss with a game they can potentially win). It's not the aristocratic way to do it, which is typically the Big Ten's m.o., but Moos isn't an aristocrat.
He's a rancher who's in the Big Ten now and feeling pretty good about his football program's chances to need a decent path to the Playoff in the near future.
The Grab Bag
- The Dr. Pepper guy, Larry Culpepper, isn't going to be the Dr. Pepper guy anymore.
- Jim Harbaugh plans to take Michigan to South Africa next. Given the tone deaf, include-every cliché (hey, look, it's Marty Smith in a beret eatching a baguette!) coverage that surrounds these well-meaning trips, that idea fills me with dread.
- Barton Simmons looks at the spate of quarterback transfers.
- ICYMI: Jacob Padilla broke down the NBA Draft Combine with a Big Ten focus and we're looking back at UCF's losses in Year 1 as a way to inform what could be ahead for Nebraska in 2018.
Today's Song of Today
Brandon is the Managing Editor for Hail Varsity and has covered Nebraska athletics for the magazine and web since 2012, Hail Varsity’s first season on the scene. His sports writing has also been featured by Fox Sports, The Guardian and CBS Sports.