Football, or recruiting, "is all about relationships" is a cliche we hear all too much, and few relationships are more important to college coaching staffs than the relationships that they have with high school coaches.
That brings me to the announcement that the Big Ten made today, "Friday night football is coming to the Big Ten," Tom Dienhart notes in a piece from the Big Ten Network. I don't have to explain how that conflicts with the schedule of high school coaches reading this.
Starting in 2017, The Big Ten will play six prime-time games on Fridays in September and October that will air on FOX, ESPN, or FS1. Two of them will take place on Labor Day Friday, which some teams (like Michigan State) have scheduled games already before.
"We have thought a lot about this" conference associate commissioner for television administration Mark Rudner points out in the BTN article before adding that the six Friday night games will "represent about six percent of the total home games that we will have in any year over the next six years. We think it is a great opportunity for significant exposure and more favorable use of national platforms for football.”
A total of 65 Friday night games will take place in 2017, including a number match ups between premier FBS programs. But Friday nights have long been reserved for high school football, when downtowns would empty and business would close to go watch a high school match up under the lights.
So did the Big Ten explore any other options? Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday where #MACtion and #FunBelt have thrived, perhaps?
“No, we didn’t,” Ruder noted. “With the NFL moving in on Thursday, our institutions weren��t interested in it. And colleges will move further and further away from Thursday because the NFL is taking it over."
Sure, this will only affect a small number of games in the grand scheme of things, but when relationships between college programs and high school coaches are so vital to the recruiting process, the Big Ten Network choosing to move games to Friday nights, and refusing to look at any other night of the week, seems a bit insensitive to that relationship.
Penn State and Michigan have come out and informed the Big Ten that they will not host games on Friday nights, with respect to high school football.
Other programs are echoing the same sentiment.