The Big Ten launched a controversial initiative last season when it started scheduling Friday night games — and Penn State coach James Franklin still isn’t a fan of it.
Although the Nittany Lions have chosen not to host games on Friday nights, they will still have to play Friday, Sept. 21, at Illinois. Three other Big Ten games this season are also slated to kick off on Fridays.
“Yeah, I’m not a fan of Friday night games. Never have been,” Franklin said Wednesday afternoon during the Big Ten coaches teleconference. “I think all the Big Ten coaches came out unanimously saying the same thing.”
At issue for Franklin, and other coaches in the Big Ten, is how playing a game Friday might interfere with high school football around the respective states of each program. More eyes on Penn State’s game against Illinois, for example, likely means fewer eyes on high school football contests that night. Recruiting is another concern.
“Friday night is for high school; truly, Saturday is for college, and Sunday is for the NFL,” Franklin continued. “And I think that’s been a great model and has worked for a long time and has allowed each separate phase to have a day and a night to enjoy on their own.”
Rutgers coach Chris Ash echoed an identical sentiment last year. Indiana coach Tom Allen previously said he was “very concerned,” and Maryland coach D.J. Durkin said, “I don’t think it’s a great idea.”
The conference announced its intention in the winter of 2016 to host Friday night games starting with the 2017 season, as part of its new six-year media rights agreement with ESPN and FOX.
“I think really, maybe the smaller conferences like the MAC and others started playing on multiple nights and people saw there was an opportunity for that, and its created some greed where other people have tried to work their way into those markets,” Franklin said. “And I just think we have to be careful, and we have to respect each level and say, ‘Hey, the high schools are going to respect colleges and the NFL, the colleges are going to respect high school and the NFL, and the NFL’s going to respect down to colleges and high school.’
“There’s enough days in the week that make sense for all of us, but I think the model should stay the way it is. And we shouldn’t be doing anything to hurt or damage one of the other levels, specifically high school.”