Tuesday, January 13, 2015
Friday Night Fights
That was the slate of men's college basketball games last Friday night. Three of those were available on the ESPN family of networks. Get excited for this Friday too, which features 6 MAAC games and Western Illinois vs North Dakota St. Then, in the stretch run come February, we'll have Ivy League ball to look forward to for exciting MAAC and Ivy regular season action.
This time of year is great because six nights a week we have college basketball in our living rooms, almost offsetting the 9 months of HGTV that grown men watched while waiting for hoops season. Maybe asking for the seventh night of the week is greedy. Besides, we all know the NCAA cares about kids missing class, even though the hypocrisy of the NCAA still puts National Championships on Mondays as long as the TV networks pay enough. But if you buy into that underlying belief that kids shouldn't miss class then teams shouldn't play Friday when they can play Saturday and miss less class. That's fair. Kind of. Because it still doesn't mean Friday nights have to be empty nights.
And an empty night Friday is. The barren landscape leaves the ESPN family, Fox Sports, NBC Sports el at airing re-runs of their version of Sportscenter, or in the case of last Friday, a year old rerun of the Australian Open, a 3,000th rerun of "The Book of Manning presented by Chick-Fil-A" or even worse: NBA "Basketball." There's a lot of smart people who work at those television conglomerates. Economics demands that when the alternative is a broadcast lineup like last Friday's, or a live college basketball game, the choice is to be a simple one.
Hence, a proposal:
Friday Night Fights meets NCAA hoops to form Rivalry Friday. Take two teams that play within an hour of one another and offer them a TV spot on Friday night. No one misses class, the TV stations make a buck, and schools get a ton of exposure from people at bars who will no longer be stuck with SportsCenter on mute. Better than that, good local rivals start having a reason to play each other again. Right now George Washington can never schedule Georgetown. Marshall needed an act of (state) congress to play West Virginia. Offer national TV spots for these games and all of the sudden Coaches and President's at BCS schools may just pickup the phone.
Once conference play comes around, people around the country can experience a Big 5 game with a Friday night atmosphere, check out what they have been missing when VCU and Richmond square off, or see a real bracketbuster when Cincinnati and Xavier duke it out. All in arenas packed with college students ready to explode on Friday night.
League offices, TV networks, powers that be across the land: Have your fans be greedy. Get paid. Let there be Friday Night!