Monday, February 11, 2013
Big Ten open to November night games
By Brian Bennett
The Big Ten has traditionally been reluctant to stage night games in November. That could be changing.
League coaches expressed support for more primetime games in the final full month of the regular season during conference meetings the past two days. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told ESPN.com that the conference has no objection if schools want to schedule more night games in general, including ones in November.
Delany said Penn State, Nebraska and Ohio State are among the schools that have been pushing for more games under the lights.
"We've been very supportive of night games," Delany said. "We've gone from zero to 15, and our television partners like them if it's the right game. ...
"So there seems to be more of an openness to open that window on the game-day experience, whether it's in November or October. We won't stand in the way. We just have to figure out the best way to do it, but I think there's value there."
Though the Big Ten doesn't have a specific policy against November night games, it hasn't exactly been encouraged, either. The last Big Ten night game in November was in 2008 when Iowa went to Minnesota. And that was played in the Metrodome.
Cold weather, of course, has been one of several reasons why the league has preferred noon and 3:30 p.m. ET kickoffs in November. But the exposure to the elements for fans may be worth the added exposure for the teams involved, as college football is increasingly becoming a primetime sport.
"The viewership is larger and more diverse," Delany said. "November can be cold, but that's going to be a local decision and one we would encourage."
Delany said we could see a November night game as soon as the 2013 season, "if we had the right games and we had the right schools and we had the openness."
Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said he's a proponent of more night games.
"November is a good option," he said. "Historically, we've been resistant to that for weather reasons and our kids getting home so late at night or early in the morning. We're more open to it now. One of the things we have to look at is the historical temperatures in November, what they look like, and [then] we can make an informed decision on that point. I'm open to it."
Don't hold your breath on a Michigan-Ohio State night game. But if the schools are interested and the matchup is an appealing one to TV, a November primetime game could happen and prove beneficial. Just remember to dress in layers.