Six Big Ten football games are scheduled to be played on Friday nights as part of the conference’s television deal with ESPN/ABC and Fox going into effect in fall of 2017.
Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith told The Lantern that Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany had been in discussion with Smith and the rest of the conference’s athletic directors for the last three years about extending the conference’s television deals. Smith said the athletic directors were asked a list of things to consider on what to do differently. Moving games to Friday nights was one of those things.
Under the contract, each school is obligated to host a Friday night game once every three years. Smith said he decided the only time OSU would host a home Friday night game would be during the school’s autumn break weekend. In 2017, OSU plays at Nebraska on that weekend, but that doesn’t rule out an away Friday night game.
“Our commissioner had conversations with the networks and there was a list of things that might help us with exposure and help us increase revenue,” Smith said. “Our restrictions we came up with on our own.”
Smith told The Lantern that OSU coach Urban Meyer and the rest of the coaching staff were notified that the change would occur.
The Big Ten is under contract with ESPN/ABC and Fox until 2023.
The news of the Big Ten’s expansion of primetime games into Friday night was originally reported by the Chicago Tribune earlier on Wednesday, who spoke with conference commissioner Jim Delany. He told The Tribune that there will be three Friday-night conference games and three nonconference games on Friday night.
There will also be 12 Saturday night primetime games.
Delaney told The Tribune that the conference is reluctant to ask schools with large seating capacities to host Friday night games. Michigan, Penn State and OSU own the three largest stadiums in college football.
Michigan told the Big Ten that it is not interested in playing on Friday nights, home or away.
The Big Ten told The Lantern that it will release the conference football schedules and its primetime games at a time to be determined.
11/2 Editor’s Note: The article has been updated with comments from Athletic Director Gene Smith