When the Big Ten announced last week that it would be introducing Friday night football games for certain programs in 2017, Maryland was immediately a strong candidate to be one of those schools.
That candidacy was solidified on Tuesday, as the conference announced a 2017 Friday night slate that includes the Terps hosting Northwestern on Oct. 13. This is hardly a surprising move.
The league isn’t going to force bluebloods like Ohio State, Michigan ore Penn State into these matchups, according to the Chicago Tribune (although Ohio State said it’s willing to participate once every three years, and only during its fall break). This leaves the Maryland one of the only other Big Ten East schools available, along with Rutgers.
These games could end up being logistical problems, but TV money will always trump those concerns. The game will be aired on FOX or ESPN, which could cause Maryland to reach a bigger audience than it usually would on the Big Ten Network.
There are valid concerns about these games, noted here by Land-Grant Holy-Land’s Matt Brown:
Putting Big Ten teams, even a small number, on Friday, cheapens the value of the Saturday product. It stoops Big Ten football down to the level of the AAC. It inconveniences fans, recruits, coaches, and actual universities.
And for what, so Maryland can get slightly more TV eyeballs because there’s no other football on? Why should anybody give a crap about that? Has playing Thursday games somehow elevated the product in the Pac-12? Or the ACC?
But as we’ve all learned time and time again, college football conferences are almost always going to take the route that’ll bring them more money. That’s what these weekday games will do, even if it means teams have to sacrifice rest and schoolwork to make it happen.
Maryland played a Friday night game this season at Florida International and won, 41-41.
Here’s the full slate of Friday night Big Ten games next year:
Fri., Sept. 1 Washington at Rutgers
Fri., Sept. 1 Utah State at Wisconsin
Fri., Sept. 8 Ohio at Purdue
Fri., Sept. 29 Nebraska at Illinois
Fri., Oct. 13 Northwestern at Maryland
Fri., Oct. 27 Michigan State at Northwestern