The Big Ten will begin scheduling games on Friday nights starting next year, but at least two schools are flatly rejecting taking part in them. Michigan and Penn State both say they won’t participate in Friday night games. Given how weeknight games in other conference have played out, both schools are making the right decision.
Michigan has privately rejected the idea, while Penn State took the step of going public:
First off, the quality of weeknight major conference football has been appalling. Anyone watching the Pac-12’s Thursday and Friday night games will tell you they’ve been atrocious. Playing on short weeks is detrimental to the product, as we’ve seen with Thursday Night Football in the NFL. Why would a team or school welcome less practice time before an all-important conference game?
Additionally, as Penn State’s announcement points out, communities are built around Saturday games. There’s no reason to change something that isn’t broken. Moving games to Friday nights would be adding another variable into an equation that is both highly successful and highly profitable. It will be much harder for schools to fill giant stadiums on Friday night than it is on Saturdays. At most major programs, games are an all-day experience. Fans won’t get that with weekday night start times. It feels like a move the Big Ten is making just to make it.
The rest of the conference’s major programs should reject the games as well. Teams like Indiana, Northwestern, Rutgers, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Minnesota and Purdue should be interested in primetime games to help boost their stature, but the rest of the conference probably doesn’t need to go that route. Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Wisconsin, Nebraska and Penn State have no reason to change the current formula.
As of now the Big Ten plans to schedule six games (three non-conference and three in-conference) on Friday nights next season. The league is likely only going to expand from there, and it’s a terrible idea.