IOWA CITY — Don’t look for the switch to be flipped for Friday night lights in Kinnick Stadium anytime soon.
Thursday, Iowa athletics director Gary Barta said Friday night kickoffs were barely discussed during Big Ten administrators meetings last week. “No serious conversations about playing Friday nights,” he said.
“I haven’t had any conversations around our campus, because I just don’t see it logistically,” Barta said. “It’s such a challenge. I don’t think it will happen, but we haven’t spent a lot of time talking about it.”
Maryland and Rutgers join the Big Ten this fall bringing the Big Ten to 14 schools. So, TV time slots will be crowded with two more games. The conference is looking into ways to relieve the congestion.
November night games are definitely on the table, Barta said.
“We also talked about playing a few night games into November, so maybe the first or second week in November,” Barta said. “We talked a lot more about that [November night games] than some of the other topics. It’s a possibility.”
Schools will have two bye weeks next season, so that does alleviate some of the crowding. For example, ESPN (ABC, ESPN, ESPN2) and the Big Ten Network will have five games for broadcast on Oct. 18. On Nov. 22, the number moves to seven. The 2014 season is the last of the two-bye week seasons until at least 2019. Also, the B1G moves to a nine-game league schedule in 2016.
“Are there ways we can soften that a little bit?” Barta said. “We talked about are there ways we could play some Big Ten games earlier in the season? Would night games in the first and second week of November help? Could we look at a special game around the Labor Day weekend or a special game around Thanksgiving weekend?
Or course, Iowa and Nebraska play on “Black Friday,” the day after Thanksgiving. Big Ten teams also play on the Friday before Labor Day, before some schools are in session.
Barta mentioned the possibility of Labor Day Monday.
“Saturday is still our prime day. We want to play most if not all on Saturdays, unless there’s some special weekend,” he said. “Do we play a game on Labor Day Monday, for example? I don’t know that we will, but it’s something we’re looking at. But for the most part, our bread and butter is going to be Saturday afternoons, Saturday evenings, Saturday nights.”
In a Chicago Tribune story Thursday, Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany talked about the conference’s looming TV contract negotiations. He said the conference is emphasizing increasing night games on Saturdays in November.
“We’re looking hard at more prime time,” Delany told the Tribune. “We’re looking at many, many issues — 100 issues. We’re trying to enhance the (TV) package, but the notion that we’re playing Friday nights — I don’t think it will happen while I’m here. There are much higher priorities.”