The Big Ten announced Friday night games are coming to the conference’s 2017 primetime football schedule Tuesday afternoon.
The University of Wisconsin football team was selected as one of the six teams to play on Friday nights next season, with the Badgers slated for a matchup against Utah State University on Sept. 1, 2017.
Wisconsin isn’t the only school in the conference scheduled for a game that night. Rutgers University, a member of the Big Ten West division will share the spotlight with the Badgers as the Scarlett Knights host University of Washington in New Brunswick.
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Earlier this summer, the Big Ten signed a record-setting television deal with Fox Sports and ABC/ESPN that will reportedly pay the conference a total of $2.64 billion over the next six seasons.
Part of this agreement included that 36 — six annually — Big Ten football games would be broadcasted during primetime Friday night programming over the upcoming six-year stretch.
Between the six games selected for the 2017 Friday night slate, 10 of the conference’s 14 schools will participate in the first wave of these scheduling changes next season.
Penn State University, University of Minnesota, University of Iowa and Michigan were the remaining four schools to not make next year’s list of Friday night showings.
While this change may not drastically affect the availability of each institution’s student turnout, it does pose a major conflict with fans who follow or participate high school football across the midwest.
For quite some time, the natural progression of fall Saturdays in the U.S. has allotted one day to celebrate each of the three levels of competitive football across the country: high school ball on Fridays, college ball on Saturdays and professional ball on Sundays.
Yet with a recent rise in the number of college football games televised Friday nights, this could prove problematic for fans who have been historically faithful to high school football on Friday nights.
In their announcement, the Big Ten acknowledged this conflict but reminded fans the six annual games account for only six percent of the Big Ten home games scheduled in the next six years.
“The Big Ten Conference appreciates the significance of high school football within the region and has worked to minimize the impact of this initiative by limiting the number of Friday night games,” Big Ten spokesperson Adam Augustine said.
The conference also stated that all future Friday night home games would be announced at least 10 months before kickoff.