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Report: Jim Delany exploring Friday night Big Ten games

By Jerry Hinnen | College Football Writer

Jim Delany is preparing for the Big Ten's next round of TV contracts. (USATSI)
Jim Delany is preparing for the Big Ten's next round of TV contracts. (USATSI)
Friday night football isn't unheard of in the FBS. But among the "Power Five" conferences, Week 1 excepted, it's decidedly rare.

Would the Big Ten be willing to change that? A league that's usually been slower than its peers in the SEC or Big 12 to embrace widespread change is reportedly exploring the possibility of its own Friday Night Lights, according to Wisconsin State Journal columnist Andy Baggot.

From Baggott's Tuesday column:

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany is trying to get feedback to be used in negotiating the next series of TV deals for the league. The current contracts run through 2016 (with Fox for the conference football championship game) and '17 (with ESPN and ABC for regular-season games).

If the networks want Big Ten games on Friday nights — a slot traditionally reserved for high schools — Delany wants to know where his constituents stand and an idea of what a commitment like that would be worth.

Baggot writes that Delany is also floating the idea of night games as late in the season as November, another break with current Big Ten scheduling policy, though cautioning that either change would be "years away," if even approved.

The truth is that as distasteful as Big Ten football on a Friday night must sound to the league traditionalists on first glance, a 14-team league that's expanded in no small part expressly for the purpose of developing its television network must find ways of maximizing that network -- and as of today, Friday nights are a rare untapped resource when it comes to reaching viewers. If, say, Rutgers-Purdue is going to be buried beneath a wave of six other league games on your standard October Saturday, is there really so much harm in moving it to a Friday night and snagging both teams a few more eyeballs?

There might be if you're a ticket-holding fan, of course. But -- sadly -- does that even matter with the league already all-in on the Big Ten Network? The Friday experiment may or may not come to fruition, but at this point it doesn't seem wise to bet against it.

 
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