Of all of the major conferences, the Big Ten might have the stiffest upper lip. While every other conference happily puts out full preseason all-conference teams and preseason coach and media polls, the Big Ten merely gives a short players-to-watch list. While the SEC annually arranges a four-day circus to serve as its media days, the Big Ten keeps it to a sedate 1.5 days which feature a luncheon. A luncheon! When it comes to promotion, the Big Ten tends to stay out of the game.
One recent decision that felt like a weakening of the knees in the face of modern-day television pressures, however, was the conference’s decision to start playing Friday night games. That was very un-Big Ten. One, that’s the night for high school football. Two, given the timing it seemed like a concession inherent to the Big Ten’s admittedly huge TV deal. Everyone has a price, I guess.
When the Big Ten announced that last fall, it was reported that Nebraska would host a Friday night home game once every three years and be willing to play a Friday night away game every year.
That made the Huskers, given their historical profile, a pretty willing partner. Michigan and Penn State refused to host Friday night home games. Ohio State said it would on Labor Day weekend only. But Nebraska’s willing to move the mountain that is a game day in Lincoln to Friday once every three years and do it at the mercy of the Big Ten schedule makers.
Brian Towle of Corn Nation noted an explanation of sorts from athletic director Shawn Eichorst in the minutes of a May meeting of UNL’s executive committee. They’re only minutes and not a verbatim recording of the conversation, but you can get a sense of what it was like from the abbreviated recap. Moving a game day to Friday raised some questions about the impact on the campus and its regular class schedule:
Eichorst stated that he did not disagree with the concerns that were being raised. He noted that currently we have an obligation to play a Friday night game and at this point we need to manage the situation as best as we can. He reported that the Chancellors and Presidents are still discussing the six year trial period for these games.
Purcell asked how much the University was getting paid for hosting a Friday night game. Eichorst stated that there are no additional payments. Lee asked if there were any penalties for refusing to play a Friday night game. Eichorst stated that he is not aware of any penalties.
Willing partner? Yeah, you could say that. It’s an interesting glimpse into how this stuff works, but I’m not sure it leads us to any conclusions other than the one most people immediately drew: The Big Ten is playing on Friday nights because its TV partners wanted Friday night inventory. While never stated directly, it seems to be the only answer on offer to the committee’s questions.
Why are we doing this? Exposure.
What’s that worth? Cash on the barrelhead? Well, nothing, but there’s more exposure.
Do we have to do it? Not sure, but we are.
These seem to be the perils of still being something of the new guy in town. Or maybe it’s just another instance of “Nebraska nice.” But here’s $50 million for the trouble.
The Grab Bag
- Safety JoJo Domann told Brian Christopherson of the Lincoln Journal Star that his recovery from knee surgery is ahead of schedule.
- Tackle Nick Gates made the Outland Trophy watch list.
- Dennis Dodd of CBSSports.com writes that Ole Miss has bungled its response to the ongoing NCAA investigation into the football program.
- Nick Saban doesn’t often forget things, but he seems to have left Auburn off this list of SEC teams the Tide respects.
Today’s Song of Today