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Friday, September 5, 2008
Hey 'Bring On the Cats,' did you watch Vandy?

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin

I just can't seem to make those guys over at the Bring on the Cats blog happy.

After their recent laments about my analysis of the relative merits of the Kansas State coaching job, they've jumped on me again.

My recent comments about the need for some forward thinking in the Big 12 about Thursday night games prompted a blast this morning that I feel like I need to reply to.

My point was that the Big 12 needs to start thinking -- begging might be a better word -- to get more national exposure by playing on Thursday nights.

Guys, there's a reason why the SEC has hop-scotched past the Big 12 and maybe even the Big Ten as far as being the cash cow among college football powers.

I'm betting that the average football fan knows a little bit more about Bobby Johnson and his program at Vanderbilt this morning than they might have a day or so earlier.

I'm sorry, but I think schools like Virginia Tech, Virginia and West Virginia have benefitted because they've been willing to play Thursday night home games for the good of their conferences. Their programs are a lot better known because of the exposure they've received by playing on Thursday nights. If the Hokies and Frank Beamer hadn't thought like that, I'm betting they wouldn't be in the ACC today.

I also noticed by looking at your population charts that all three of them are in smaller cities than Manhattan, Kan.

Bring on the Cats brings up that it would be difficult for fans to travel to games on Thursday nights rather than Saturdays. True, but how much of a sacrifice is that?

The concept of Saturday afternoon games is one of my favorite in all of sports. I love the smell of cheeseburgers wafting through the air on a pristine afternoon walking into the stadium. None has quite the ambiance of Bill Snyder Family Stadium. And I hate the idea of a tight Thursday night deadline as one of society's greatest ills.

But contributing a home game or two a year for the greater good of the conference might get the Big 12 consistently mentioned in the same breath as the other national power conferences. Sometimes perception is more important than reality.

And a three-quarters-full stadium watching a game on Thursday night before a national television audience is a lot more impressive to a potential recruit or an advertiser than a stadium full of brat-eating fans two days later.