The Game a night game.

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Last updated: 04/29/2013 3:15 AM
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Football
Like It Or Not, 'The Game' Will Soon Be Played at Night
By Tony Gerdeman

While you are watching and reacting to all of these recent changes taking place in college football – the realignments, the expansions, the playoffs – remember that each of these changes were done in the name of progress.

Each improvement comes with a thousand different benefits. Or millions, if you will. Maryland moving to the Big Ten will allow them to provide more varsity sports for their students. The Big Ten realigning their divisions will allow seven football programs in the west to make a name for themselves. (Sorry Nebraska.)

And the playoffs, well they help everybody except the football programs who clamored for the playoffs the loudest. Oh well, two out of three ain't bad.

Those changes were done for the sake of progress, which means the next wave of changes will be touted the same. One of those changes that will undoubtedly come within the next five years is Michigan and Ohio State playing 'The Game' at night.

I know that some of you are completely against this idea because The Game has always been played during the day, and it's sacred.

But does sacred mean a 1:30 pm kickoff? A noon kick? How does 3:30 pm sound?

Tradition is nice, but primetime is nicer.

Urban Meyer knows this, and the Big Ten will soon be following suit.

I know what you're thinking, you're thinking that the Big Ten's rule against November night games will prohibit this from happening. You are correct, which is why that rule is going to go away in the next couple of years.

This is what Big Ten Senior Associate Commissioner Mark Rudner told the Journal and Courier in Lafayette, Indiana about the no night games in November rule.

"I think you’ll see that changing in the future, but I don’t know in the short term. I don’t know if it will happen this year or next year but I do think … the last thing we want is to be absent from that big stage late in the season. Our coaches, our athletic directors understand that. We’ll see that change going forward."

You should read the article. It does a tremendous job of explaining how the selection process works for primetime games. Basically, ESPN gets to pick six Big Ten games that they want to air on primetime over their family of networks. The Big Ten then goes to those schools to have them yay or nay it.

If November games were opened up to primetime television, when it came time for ESPN to pick their six, the Worldwide Leader would be so excited to get The Game in primetime that they would forget to pick their other five games.

Now before you think that either Dave Brandon or Gene Smith would decline, let me remind you that when the Big Ten wanted Michigan and Ohio State to be in separate divisions, they were completely behind that decision as the best option for all involved. Now with the Big Ten deciding to put Ohio State and Michigan in the same division, they are also completely in favor of this decision as well.

Two completely polar actions, yet two athletic directors who are completely in step with whatever tune the Big Ten is playing. Basically, if the Big Ten wants it, the Big Ten will get it.

It's not like Gene Smith would have to twist Urban Meyer's arm to get him to agree to play Michigan at 8:00 pm on ABC in the Horseshoe. That's probably been one of Meyer's dreams since he took the job in the first place.

Meyer has been one of the few who are calling for more primetime games because it helps recruiting. It seems that others are finally seeing the positive impact that it could have, despite the worries of chilly temperatures.

There's certainly some merit to those worries. After all, to borrow a phrase, the coldest November Big Ten night game I've ever been to was a 3:30 October kickoff in Champaign-Urbana.

That being said, fans will have all day to "warm themselves up", and lest you think that Dave Brandon would say no to hosting Ohio State at night, there's no way that Brady Hoke would allow Meyer to have a recruiting advantage that he himself didn't also have.

In fact, the race to have the first night game might become a fun little battle to watch as well. It might be too late to do it this year, but you can bet that Meyer will be fighting to get it done for 2014 in Ohio Stadium.

It will certainly take some getting used to, but progress always does, unless you don't consider this progress.

I believe that most are completely in favor of this, at least the hundred or so who have responded to me on Twitter are overwhelmingly in favor of it.

"I do think our schools understand and recognize just how special that big stage can be on Saturday night," Rudner told the Journal and Courier.

Fans are beginning to understand it as well, and it's a good thing, because there have been times when the fans have had to set the Big Ten, Michigan and Ohio State all straight when it comes to The Game.

Remember the "SBC Michigan-Ohio State Classic"? In late October of 2004, Ohio State and Michigan announced a title sponsor for The Game. The backlash was so loud that the name was scrapped the very next day.

Remember a few years ago when the possibility of Michigan and Ohio State playing in October was floated around? The explosion of furor squashed that idea before it was even fully formed. There's a reason they float these things out there nowadays.

Now they are putting November night games on the public's tongue, and I think the public will find the idea very agreeable.

And even if there are some who don't like it, what are you going to do? Not watch it?

Didn't think so.

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