Jim Delany and the Big Ten released their prime-time schedule for the 2012 season and the league has some 14 night games this year. That's big business and with six of those games coming on the national stage in some way, shape or form, the league will be cashing in on those prime-time television audiences.
Prime-time is when the eyes are on the screen. Prime-time is when coaches sell their programs. Prime-time is where colleges want to be.
Unless you're the Big Ten, that is. The Big Ten, as is standard conference practice, has no prime-time contests scheduled later than October 27th this season. That means in the four Saturdays in November, as teams race to raise their BCS rankings, the Big Ten teams will be at home watching the games along with the rest of the nation.
While leagues are free to make their own policies (see the SEC's ban on off-campus scrimmages), that does not make the rules good. In this case, the conference is robbing their individual teams and players of the night games the rest of the nation is clamoring for.
Around the nation, the premium placed on night games by fanbases, players and coaches is nearly universal. The games are a tremendous sell from a recruiting standpoint. The feel of playing in the spotlight for the nation is nearly unmatched.
On Saturdays in the fall, games are on all day. Fans spend time watching their own team put in work. Once prime-time hits, you get more eyeballs turning to the limited inventory of contests. You get more voters' eyes watching to see who is making that final push, and more viewers' eyes to garner that public support coaches so desperately need when they're politicking for votes.
Don't get me wrong; day games are great. Logistically, for a player or a coach they make infinitely more sense. There's less down time on Saturday and more rhythmic flow from Friday's walk-through to Saturday's action. For recruits, it gives them an unofficial visit that gets them back on the road home in the afternoon instead of at midnight.
The Big Ten's practice, as it stands now, is simply archaic. It is a refusal to make use of a beneficial practice because a group subscribes to an old standard.
We've seen that a prime-time game in the Big House or the Horseshoe can sell; imagine what a meaningful late season contest in one of those locations could bring to the television marketplace. The same can most certainly be said of Camp Randall, Beaver or Memorial Stadium.
It's time for the Big Ten to embrace the machine that is prime-time television. Take the bridle off the horse and let it run. Don't let the Pac-12, the SEC or the Big XII capitalize on an audience that could be yours during one of those sacred November nights. Big Ten, the time has come to change things up a bit.