Nov 30, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines face the Ohio Buckeyes at Michigan Stadium. Could the game be played at night? Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Michigan Football: 2nd night game added to 2014 slate, will UM-OSU follow?

Sep 7, 2013; Ann Arbor, MI, USA; Michigan Wolverines quarterback Devin Gardner (98) runs off the field after defeating Notre Dame Fighting Irish 41-30 at Michigan Stadium. Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

A cold frigid breeze is blowing relentlessly across Stadium Blvd. and on to the Michigan Golf Course.  The last of the colorful lanterns have been extinguished as the throngs of fans slip and slide their way toward their snow covered Big House seats.  Sure, we’ve played night games before, but this is The Game for heaven sakes.

Sound far fetched? Well not really. More and more conference teams will be playing games at night. It’s even been rumored that Big Ten games will be scheduled for Friday nights.

And eventually Michigan and Ohio State will most likely play The Game at night.

Michigan will play its last scheduled game with Notre Dame (for awhile) Sept. 6 at night in South Bend (7:30 pm ET ).  The Wolverines announced today (April 7) the Penn State at Michigan Big Ten battle,  Oct. 11, will kickoff at 7 pm.

Huge TV Dollars

NBC will televise the Notre Dame contest while ESPN or ESPN2 will televise the Penn State affair.

“ESPN also televised Michigan’s first two home night games (both vs. Notre Dame), generating large audiences for both,” U-M’s David Ablauf wrote in a prepared statement. “ESPN averaged 8,653,000 viewers (a 5.3 HH US rating) for the 2013 telecast and 7,541,000 viewers (a 4.5 HH US rating) for the 2011 matchup.

“The night game atmosphere created by our fans has been electric and we expect that same type of energy for our first-ever conference night game against Penn State,”added Brady Hoke, the J. Ira and Nicki Harris Family Head Football Coach. “Our players really enjoy playing in primetime at Michigan Stadium.”

Night games are not limited to Saturday, either.  ESPN Thursday night football will begin its 14th season in September.  In fact, college football games are played every night of the week except Sunday and Monday.

Thursday night in Blacksburg

Virginia Tech was one of the earliest major college teams to embrace the mid-week telecasts. The Hokies basically built their brand on Thursdays by creating a raucous atmosphere and winning some key games. Bumping heads with Survivor was no problem.

In fact Michigan State played Youngstown State on Friday of  Labor Day weekend in 2011.

At this point, Michigan and Ohio State both dislike the idea of playing each other in prime time.. The Big 10’s so-called television policy prohibits night games in November, but a lucrative television offer could certainly turn some heads.

“I’m going to fight it like mad,” Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith told the Cleveland Plain Dealer, while Coach Hoke took the same stance. “No, not that one,” he said.

Brandon concerned

Michigan AD Dave Brandon elaborated on the Buckeye and Spartan rivalries.

I know how many people get arrested, I know how many people get ejected from the stadium,” Brandon told Sports Illustrated. “I know how many people get carted off to the hospital. I know what it is on a typical game and I know what it is on a Michigan State game. And if you took a Michigan State game and moved it to 8 o’clock, you could take what we experience now and maybe double or triple it and I don’t want to do that,” Brandon said. “To me that’s not fun. That’s not what college football should be about.”

You have to wonder if Brandon could turn down a healthy check.

Bo Schembechler was a staunch believer that games should always start at 1 pm.  Regardless, game times moved to noon, 1:30, 3:30 and eventually 6 p.m (with portable lights).  For many years ABC televised Michigan-Ohio State nationally at 1:30 p.m and followed with UCLA-USC  at 4:30 p.m.  Recently, The Game has been played both at noon and at 3:30 pm.

The traditional Michigan-Ohio State ABC time slot, along with the coaching rivalry between Bo and Woody, helped make The Game what it is today.  One day, sooner rather than later,  The Game will be played at night. ♦

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Written by GBMWolverine Staff — Joel Greer

 

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