Tuesday, June 4, 2013
MSU to consider hosting Michigan at night
By Adam Rittenberg
The Big Ten will feature a record 18 games in prime time this season. November night games likely are on the way in 2014.
So what's the next logical step? More rivalry games under the lights.
We've seen delicious conference matchups like Ohio State-Penn State, Ohio State-Wisconsin and Wisconsin-Michigan State kick off in prime time. But two of the Big Ten's biggest rivalries -- Michigan-Ohio State and Michigan State-Michigan -- continue to be played in the daylight hours. Although some of us would like to see The Game kick off at night, don't expect it to happen any time soon. Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith acknowledged at the Big Ten spring meetings that he's open to 3:30 p.m. ET kickoffs, but when asked about playing Michigan at night, he said, "Are you crazy? What's wrong with you?"
OK, so Michigan-Ohio State is off the table for now. What about Michigan-Michigan State under the lights?
MSU athletic director Mark Hollis isn't ruling it out. Hollis, speaking Tuesday at the Detroit Economic Club, said Michigan State's home game against Michigan in 2014 could be played at night. Michigan State hosts its in-state rival both this season and next -- a first for the Spartans -- and while the Nov. 2 game at Spartan Stadium will kick off at noon ET or 3:30 p.m. ET, the teams' next meeting, on Oct. 25, 2014, could be in prime time.
"The first one will not be [under the lights], the second one is always a possibility," Hollis said. "We love night games at Michigan State, we think they have great value, but we also want to ensure it fits with everything else that's around. So it's going to depend on how many other night games are on the docket. It's nothing we would say a definite `no' to, but we would evaluate it if the situation arises."
Spartan Stadium likely would be the location if the in-state rivals ever play at night. Although Michigan is now hosting night games -- the Wolverines will play Notre Dame under the lights for the second straight season -- athletic director Dave Brandon has no plans to host MSU or Ohio State in prime time.
Night games are great for many fans, but they create headaches for schools and the cities in which they're located. Additional police and stadium staff usually are brought in for night games, and when you throw in two rival fan bases with a whole day to gear up for kickoff, problems can ensue.
But this isn't a reason for Big Ten teams to never play meaningful games at night. Look at Bedlam. Look at LSU-Alabama. Look at Notre Dame-USC.
Michigan-Michigan State doesn't have to be an annual night game, but it would be great to see it once in a while. Here's hoping Hollis does more than just consider having next year's game at night.
- Spartans head coach Mark Dantonio also was at the Detroit Economic Club on Tuesday, and he said a report about the retirement of offensive lineman Skyler Burkland because of injuries was premature. Burkland has been limited since fracturing and dislocating his ankle in a September 2011 game against Notre Dame. Dantonio said Burkland, projected as Michigan State's starting right tackle, will be evaluated when preseason camp begins.
- Dantonio also said Riley Bullough will open camp as a running back after moving there from middle linebacker late in spring practice.