To much fanfare, the Big Ten recently inked a major extension to its TV deals with ESPN and Fox. To much consternation, the Big Ten also revealed some Friday night broadcasts will be included as part of those 9-figure paychecks.
In a conference that fancies itself the Ivy League of FBS, Friday night games were welcomed about as warmly as if the Ivy League itself selling its naming rights to McDonald’s.
Northwestern was slated for two of the eight Friday games in 2017, but Wildcats head coach Pat Fitzgerald revealed Monday Northwestern will instead play none. From the Chicago Tribune:
But Fitzgerald’s 2017 team also received what the coach called “great news” — it will not have to play two Big Ten games on Friday night.
In November the Big Ten announced it had added Friday night games, including NU at Maryland (Oct. 13) and Michigan State at NU (Oct. 27).
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.
It’s not clear how Friday work schedules and traffic affect Northwestern fans when the team is in College Park, Md., as they were scheduled to be on Oct. 13. It’s also not clear how the Big Ten couldn’t have seen the “unintended consequences” of football games on weeknights coming before they made the announcement.
Nevertheless, Northwestern will not play on Fridays this year and the earth will continue to spin on its axis.