College football is filled with a number of historic rivalries that helped shape the sport to what it has become today. The biggest rivalry of them all, Ohio State and Michigan, is no different. These two teams first met in 1897 and have been playing each other every year since 1918.
"The Game," as referred to some, has been traditionally held during the last week of the regular season with conference and national championship implications often at stake. The rivalry contains such a historic tradition that coaches, players and fans of both teams cherish.
The Ohio State-Michigan game means so much to the fanbases that when rumors said that it might be changed from the last week of the season due to the expansion in the Big Ten, fans adamantly demanded the game not be rescheduled to a different weekend.
It is obvious the fans do not want any major changes to occur in this annual showdown. Although if this one thing were to change, a majority of the fans would be pretty excited. This change would be moving the game to prime time.
Could you imagine the Super Bowl starting at noon? How about Game 7 of the World Series with the first pitch at 3:30 in the afternoon? There is a reason why all major sporting events take place after sunset. If this is indeed the greatest rivalry in all of sports (according to ESPN's ranking), this game should also be played in prime time.
Currently the Big Ten does not allow night games to be played in November. The Big Ten states that weather, security measures and logistics as the main reasons for this policy.
The weather reason is quite understandable. Big Ten fans especially know how cold and unpredictable the weather can be late in November. Although if it is cold at kickoff at 3:30 p.m., it is still going to be cold for an 8 p.m. start time. Cold fronts have been known to strike Big Ten territory late in October as well, yet you would not see a big prime-time game getting rescheduled to a noon kickoff.
Should Ohio State-Michigan be played at night?
Security measures and logistics can also be a burden but they can be overcome. Yes, security must be increased for night games and the planning to get people out of the stadium and on their way home is also more difficult. If other conferences can accomplish these tasks, though, the Big Ten should be able to as well.
Another reason for the lack of night games in November for the Big Ten is because of the television contract. Big Ten senior associate commissioner Mark Rudner, who is in charge of television scheduling, does not see the Buckeyes and Wolverines matchup ever going to prime time. "It's special to begin with," Rudner said. "You're not going to get any bigger by going to prime time."
Well, if this is the case, why was the LSU-Alabama game rescheduled from an afternoon kickoff to prime time just this past season? It is easy to see the impact on television ratings, ticket sales and income generated when college football games are played at night.
Everything about the Ohio State-Michigan game is already great, but room for improvement should always be an option. These two programs are currently on the upswing.
Michigan seems to have found its coach that can lead the team toward the top echelon of college football, where it historically has been. Meanwhile, Ohio State is now coached by perhaps one of the best college football coaches in Urban Meyer.
The Big Ten should see this as a perfect opportunity to put the Big Ten back on the national spotlight by putting these two successful programs in a late-night clash between the hated rivals.
The landscape of college football is constantly changing. Right now billion dollar television deals are making a huge impact on conference alignment and scheduling. The Big Ten needs to adapt with this change and allow November to host a night game, "The Game."