Big Ten backs off some Friday football games

April 5, 2017 / Football
The Big Ten has rescheduled two of its Friday football games next season, a reaction to critics who thought the schedule could negatively affect attendance at high school games.

The Big Ten Conference announced last fall it would play six primetime Friday football games during the 2017 season, a decision that disappointed athletic associations and high schools in those states. Friday nights are big for high school football, and states feared the Big Ten’s shift could lead to smaller crowds at prep games.

“In Ohio on any given Friday night in the fall we have about 350 high school football games across the state,”  OHSAA director of communications Tim Stried said at the time of the decision. “The majority of those folks are Ohio State fans. Something that could keep some folks from going out to see their local high school, obviously we’re not going to be thrilled with that.”

Officials in Iowa and Michigan also voiced their concerns, and now their voices are being heard. The Big Ten announced this week that two of the six games — Michigan State at Northwestern and Northwestern at Maryland — have been moved to Saturday. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald was among those who spoke out against the Big Ten’s decision last fall.


“I believe Fridays are for high school football first and foremost,” Fitzgerald said in the fall. “I think playing on a short week is a mistake. I’d prefer to keep Big Ten football on Saturdays. I get it, doesn’t mean I like it.”

Northwestern did not immediately return a request for comment this week, but Fitzgerald told the Chicago Tribune over the weekend that the change was “great news.”

ESPN reports that the Big Ten is considering additional cuts to their Friday schedule. Click here to read the complete story.

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