Oct 6, 2018; Madison, WI, USA; A Nebraska Cornhuskers helmet sits on the sidelines during the game against the Wisconsin Badgers at Camp Randall Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

Nebraska is part of Fox’s full slate of Friday night college football, which was announced earlier this week. The Cornhuskers will play host to Illinois on Friday, September 20, and will play a weekday football game for the first time at Memorial Stadium in 23 years.

It took the Big Ten and Big 12 and its athletic directors a while to reach that point, but they ultimately determined that the pros outweighed the cons. At least, that’s what Nebraska AD Troy Dannen said in rationalizing moving a Saturday game to Friday.

According to On3, Dannen acknowledged downsides to a first-in-20-years weekday home game, but the national exposure and TV revenue made it worthwhile.

“I know Friday night games cause a lot of heartburn for a lot of reasons,” Dannen said. “You think of high school football and just the logistics of a Friday night game in the middle of a college campus. There are going to be a lot of challenges with it, but the ability to put the Huskers and that stadium and our crowd in the national limelight for a night game is one well worth the challenges that lie ahead with it.

“The other thing is we can be upset about it all we want, but we’re cashing a pretty large check from our television contract every year. This is the price of that check. In order to fund what we want to do, you end up with a Friday night game here and there.”

It’s hard to argue with Dannen’s transparency. While Friday night games aren’t popular, the hefty TV contracts make playing one a season financially attractive enough for the programs involved.

In March, Fox announced it would air Friday night college football in the fall after WWE SmackDown’s departure. Originally set to move to USA Network in OctoberSmackDown will return to USA on September 13, the same date as Fox’s first Friday night college football game.

Following the college football season, Fox is expected to continue airing sports on Friday nights, including college basketball.

And while the debate over Friday night games is likely to continue, for now, the financial allure seems to outweigh tradition.


About Sam Neumann

Since the beginning of 2023, Sam has been a staff writer for Awful Announcing and The Comeback. A 2021 graduate of Temple University, Sam is a Charlotte native, who currently calls Greenville, South Carolina his home. He also has a love/hate relationship with the New York Mets and Jets.