Big Ten football is set to appear on televisions everywhere next season on Friday nights — but don’t expect to see Beaver Stadium.
The conference’s new TV contract, which begins for the 2017 season, will reportedly include a package of six Friday night football games, as first reported by the Chicago Tribune on Wednesday afternoon. Three of the games will be conference contests, while the other three will be nonconference matchups.
The Big Ten’s experimentation with Friday night games won’t include every team and will only take place in September and October. Big Ten schools with high-capacity stadiums (i.e. Penn State and Ohio State) won’t be asked to host them, while Michigan has already declined to participate at home or on the road, Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Tribune.
But to further quiet any unrest from Nittany Lion fans, the Penn State athletic department released a statement early Wednesday evening, saying if Delany were to ask about Friday nights at Beaver Stadium, the answer would be a hard “no.”
However, the Nittany Lions are open to one Friday night, road game per season, and would be “receptive” to playing a Friday afternoon contest the day after Thanksgiving.
The statement reads as follows: “Penn State has informed the Big Ten that we will not host football games on a Friday night. We are receptive to an occasional day game on the day after Thanksgiving. There are a variety of reasons why, among them, we know how important high school football is to hundreds of communities across the commonwealth. In addition, we have considered the impact that a Friday night home football game would have on key community stakeholders. We support the conference’s desire to expand exposure for Big Ten football on national platforms, providing additional content at high demand times, and we’ve agreed to play no more than one away game each year on a Friday night.”
A couple hours after Penn State’s statement, James Franklin spoke with the media after the Nittany Lions’ practice, reiterating that they will not host any Friday night games at Beaver Stadium and discussing the program’s position on the matter.
“Whatever the Big Ten feels what we need to do to put in the conference in the best position to be successful, myself and Penn State, we’re supportive of that,” Franklin said. “Saturday’s are really special at Penn State. It makes a lot of sense for us. High school football and all those things. We might play some road games and things like that.”
“I think there are a number of schools that had different opinions on how to handle it, and what’s nice is the Big Ten has allowed that. It’s not like, ‘This is what we’re going to do across the conference.’ They made sure they got enough schools that were supportive of it that it’ll work. I’m appreciative that the Big Ten didn’t force it on every school. It can still make sense for the conference overall.”