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Delaney said the package will consist of three conference games and three non-league games to be played in September and October and they’ll split evenly between Fox and ESPN. He added that Saturday’s have “become cannibalized” for college football.
Originally hesitant due to conflicts with high school football, more conferences are now open to playing on Friday nights. There were 53 college football Friday night games in 2014 increasing to 63 last year and to date, there have been 65 played this year including the Ivy League.
Over the years, the Big Ten has refused to play on Fridays citing conflicts with high schools and concerns over class time. The Big Ten said it has informed various high school associations within its footprint about its intentions to play on Fridays starting next year.
But if you’re hoping to see Michigan play a Friday night game either in Ann Arbor or anywhere else, the school has dashed those thoughts for now. Michigan has outright refused to play games on Friday whether it be home or away preferring to have its games on Saturdays.
Also opting out is Penn State choosing to keep its games on Saturdays:
Penn State has informed the Big Ten that we will not host football games on a Friday night. pic.twitter.com/6SH1tcvrw4
— Penn State Athletics (@GoPSUsports) November 2, 2016
As for Ohio State, don’t expect to see the Buckeyes at home on a Friday next year, but the school isn’t ruling it out in the future. OSU athletic director Gene Smith tells the Columbus Dispatch that it will only host a game on a Friday when it falls on an October weekend when the school is on a fall semester break. Smith says Ohio State expects to host a Friday night game once every three years and he is supportive of the package:
“We battled for a long time to try to be respectful obviously for high school football. But the reality is what we need to do for our television partners and what we need to do for our revenue stream, we needed to consider some different options.”
In addition to the Friday games, the Big Ten will have 12 Saturday night games. The six Friday night games create a new opportunity for the conference which has scheduled just a few games on Fridays in the past.
In the Big Ten’s current contract with ESPN/ABC, it only has six primetime games so with the new contract that starts next year with Fox and ESPN, it expands to 18.
The 2017 Big Ten Friday night schedule is expected to be announced sometime this week.
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