Big Ten treading lightly into Thursday night football games
CHICAGO - More teams means more games, but Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said expansion won’t force the conference to play more football on Thursday nights.
“I don’t think so,” Delany said. “The increase that you’ve seen I think is consistent with the fact that they’re exceptions, they’re not standard. And I think there’s a reason behind each one of those changes in terms of the impact on the next day and the campus and so on.
“It’s been pretty much a tradition, but it’s also both symbolic and substantive. We think the games should be on Saturday.”
Indiana opened the season on a Thursday night last year, and Illinois played the Friday after Thanksgiving at Cincinnati.
This year, three Big Ten teams open with Thursday night games: Indiana plays Towson, Minnesota hosts Middle Tennessee State and Ohio State plays Marshall. Hoosiers coach Bill Lynch said his game only came about because it was the first week of school.
“I don’t think, speaking as a football coach, we’d want to do it on a regular basis,” Lynch said. “But that first week of classes we feel like it gives us something a little different.”
Michigan coach Rich Rodriguez, who coached several Thursday night games at West Virginia, said he sees no problem with the Big Ten playing more on weekdays.
“If that was something that the league would look at I would be all in favor for it,” he said. “You can do too many, but I think having one or maybe two Thursday night games, even one of them being a league game, I think that would be fine. As long as the time between (is) the same for both teams.”
He said it
Rodriguez had the one-liner of the day Tuesday when he was asked about the differences between expansion now and in 2003, when the ACC poached three teams from the Big East.
“I think it caught a few institutions off guard and it probably institutionally taught a few lessons that, hey, we better be prepared for that the next time,” Rodriguez said. “I don’t know all the factors, but I’m sure there’s a few more buy-ins and buy-outs and things like that. I know all about buy-outs. I’m sure there’s a little more of those factors put in those contracts, if you know what I mean.”
Michigan athletic director Dave Brandon said he believes Michigan has started replacing the turf at Michigan Stadium, part of the facility’s overall renovation. The cost for the new surface was somewhere around $800,000, Brandon said.
“They say the useful life of that turf is 7 to 8 years and I think we’ve had ours for 10 or 11 so it was long overdue,” he said.
Dave Birkett covers University of Michigan football for AnnArbor.com. He can be reached by phone at 734-623-2552 or by e-mail at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett.