Friday nights were made for high school football—not college football

via the Chicago Tribune

A report surfaced Tuesday morning that the Ohio State Buckeyes’ game at Northwestern next fall was moved from Saturday to Friday night. With Ohio State later confirming that report, many fans and members of Buckeye Nation weren’t happy. It’s simple: Friday nights in the fall are reserved for high school football, not college football.

The Ohio State Buckeyes football game next year against Northwestern in Evanston, Ill., will be played on Friday, Oct. 18. The two schools jointly announced the date change – it was scheduled for Oct. 19 – today, Tuesday, Dec. 18.

This will be Ohio State’s first Friday night game since the Big Ten Conference’s decision in 2016 to begin playing some games on Friday night starting in the 2017 season. At that time the conference determined that six games each season featuring league teams – three in-conference games, three non-conference games – will be played on Fridays each season.

That announcement hit a nerve not only for me but for many across the college football landscape. Northwestern head coach Pat Fitzgerald agrees with the fact that Friday nights were (and are) reserved for high school football and that should be it.

“This one was out of our control,” he told the Chicago Tribune’s Teddy Greenstein on Tuesday. “Didn’t get a vote on this. I understand why we’re doing this, but it does not make me happy. I still fundamentally believe that Fridays are for high school football.”

OHSAA Executive Director Jerry Snodgrass agrees as well.

Conferences such as the MAC playing during the week somewhat makes sense. While Saturdays are usually reserved for college football, those schools and conferences get a chance to actually have their games televised by playing during the week. That not only helps the school but the players as well.

Now for Ohio State and teams in the Big Ten, but specifically the Buckeyes, they will always be televised. So why play on any other day but Saturday? I would love for someone to explain that to me. In fact, you could argue that having the Buckeyes play on a Friday night instead of a Saturday would actually hurt the TV ratings. Ohio State always has some of the top ratings week in and week out, with the game being on a Friday night, many people that would have tuned in for the game will instead be at a high school football game.

In what will be a rematch of the 2018 Big Ten Championship game, Ohio State’s first trip to Evanston since 2013 will take place on a Friday night. That’s so wrong.

Glancing at Ohio State’s 2019 schedule, having the game at Northwestern on a Friday night could potentially help the Buckeyes. They have a bye week prior to the game so they won’t have to recover from their previous game on a short week; then following that game in Evanston, they will host Wisconsin, which will be one of their biggest games of the regular season. They will now get an extra day to prepare for the Badgers. But still, that doesn’t make up for the fact that college football — especially a program like Ohio State — should ever play on a Friday night.

It’s understandable to have bowl games during the week. There are just so many and all bowl games are televised, which means it would almost be impossible to have those games just on Saturdays. In fact, it doesn’t really matter if they are because by the time bowl season rolls around, the high school football season is over. For the regular season though, there’s no excuse for a team like Ohio State to play on any other day but Saturday, unless it’s a holiday.1

Oh and another thing: With games during the week instead of the weekend throughout the regular season, doesn’t that mean that instead of the players only missing one day (Friday) of class, they will instead miss two? So much for them being STUDENT-athletes.

Is the movie Friday Night Lights about college football? No, it’s about high school football. Keep it that way.

  1. There was nothing wrong with Ohio State playing on a Monday when they started their 2015 at Virginia Tech simply because it was Labor Day. []