Nebraska football fans, your turkey leftover eating plans are secure. According to Omaha.com, the Big Ten has approved the request from both Nebraska and Iowa to play on the day after Thanksgiving, at least for 2013 and 2014. Gary Barda, Iowa’s athletic director, had suggested that the Hawkeyes might not want to continue the Friday games, citing difficulties for fans to attend.
Thankfully, wiser minds have prevailed, and the Friday contests will continue. Nebraska has played on the day after Thanksgiving every year since 1990, and it would be a huge loss to the Children of the Corn if those Friday games went away.
The creation of the Big 12 chipped away at some of Nebraska’s history, with NU’s series against Oklahoma moving from an annual affair to twice every four years. With Nebraska’s departure to the Big Ten, many of Nebraska’s historical ties were severed.
Gone were the games against Oklahoma, against Texas (no more need be said), against Missouri (a nascent rivalry nipped in the bud), against Colorado (not a rivalry according to Nebraska fans, but a series with amazing history) and against Kansas (breaking a streak of consecutive games played that was the longest in the nation).
But one piece of that tradition remained—the day after Thanksgiving, where the entire nation could wake up from a tryptophan-induced coma and watch Nebraska, calling forth memories of Johnny Rodgers, Buster Rhymes and Chris Brown.
So it’s clear why Nebraska would want to retain the day-after-Thanksgiving slot. But what’s in it for Iowa?
Well, for starters, television exposure. Playing on the day after Thanksgiving, Nebraska and Iowa will both be guaranteed a spot on ABC with no competition. The entire college football world will be watching the Hawkeyes, something that can’t be a bad thing for recruiting.
The unfortunate fact is, Iowa is 19-19 over the last three years. Absent a quick turnaround, the Hawkeyes are not likely to get the kind of national exposure that the Friday series against Nebraska should provide. To avoid having the No. 55 recruiting class nationally, 10th in the Big Ten (according to 247Sports.com), Iowa needs all the national attention it can get.
But there’s more to it than just the recruiting angle. The Nebraska-Iowa series has the chance to be something really special, a point made by one particularly smart and handsome analyst. Yes, there’s already a shiny Heroes Game trophy to exchange, and that’s a great start. But Nebraska is already starting to develop some natural rivalries within the conference.
The Nebraska-Wisconsin series is already building some venom and could pick up steam if the Badgers are moved into the same conference as NU. The Nebraska-Michigan State and Nebraska-Northwestern series are also becoming interesting.
If Nebraska-Iowa were moved to a Saturday, quite honestly, it would become just another conference game on the schedule. I would hate for the series, which has so much rivalry potential, to be reduced to that level.
But if the importance of the game on the field isn’t at that fever-pitch intensity level—which, based on Iowa’s recent struggles, it is not—then putting the game on the day after Thanksgiving keeps the chance of a rivalry alive until the Hawkeyes get back on their feet.
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