Jim Delany announced Wednesday afternoon the Big Ten will play Friday night games starting in 2017.
Though Delany admitted reluctance in scheduling schools with giant seating capacities, Penn State and Michigan swiftly repudiated the plan.
Gene Smith, however, told Eleven Warriors that Ohio State will host a Friday night game once every three years, but only if it could be worked out during the school's fall break.
Smith also added Ohio State won't host a Friday night game in 2017. Despite that, here are the next three games during Ohio State's fall breaks:
|2017||10/12–13||@ NEBRASKA (10/14)|
Minnesota in 2018 looks ripe for the picking.
Despite the caveats, this would still be Gene Smith's biggest mistake since accepting an invite to the 2011 TaxSlayer.com Bowl. It would be a shame to see his five-year blinder come to an end.
The Big Ten says it places its student-athletes' welfare above all else, yet seems to bojangle whenever its broadcast partners need more money. How is shifting a travel schedule from Lincoln, Nebraska to Columbus, Ohio earlier into the week during the school year and asking teams to play on five-days rest anything about player welfare?
This would also be a slap in the face to Ohio's rich tradition of high school football. Small-town programs especially depend on gate sales, and only a shark would put them in direct competition with the most famous football team in the state, albeit one Friday every three years.
Here's Urban Meyer's wife, Shelley, with a fun thought experiment:
It would also eliminate one of a handful opportunities for in-state products to officially or unofficially and see a full game day experience. (Gene Smith noted Meyer already raised that concern with him.)
The "only on fall break week" qualification doesn't work, either. Why dilute the Horseshoe atmosphere by hosting a game during a Friday night of fall break? Even with students out of town, 270 at 5 p.m. on a Friday is already an awful experience without 105,000+ people rushing to the Horseshoe.
Nothing will stop the Big Ten from moving on Friday nights. If Purdue wants to host Ohio State on a Friday night, sure, whatever. But Ohio State should be above such shameless gimmickry.
Given the leads of Penn State and Michigan, it looks like it has a choice.