Penn State vs Michigan State Moved To Primetime at Ford Field
I’m a huge college football fan. Don’t get me wrong, I love the NFL. I love the Bears. I fully admit that the NFL is and always will be king. But, to me, there’s something special about a college football Saturday on campus. There’s just no more passionate feeling in sports to me than the buzz on campus before a big-time college football matchup.
Michigan State was originally slated to host Penn State for their senior day the Saturday after Thanksgiving. However, the Big Ten’s new TV partner NBC came calling. They asked Michigan State and Penn State to move their game to Ford Field on Black Friday.
The game will kick off at 7:30 in NBC’s primetime slot.
Originally, like many folks on Twitter, I wasn’t thrilled with the decision. I’m still not, but I can start to see why the move makes a little sense in the short term.
Early season non-conference games being played on sites off campus I understood. That said, I thought the line would be fairly drawn at conference games (excluding Georgia/Florida & Texas/Oklahoma which are played on neutral sites).
These two teams are often contending in the Big Ten East (though, Michigan State suffered a down year last year). Losing a home game against a fellow contender seems unfair to Michigan State. Losing your senior day to a neutral site also feels a little unfair to the Spartan players. Hotels, restaurants, and local businesses in East Lansing will also most certainly not be thrilled to lose a home weekend.
On the flip side, Michigan State home games at times have been a tough sell over Thanksgiving break. Students are off-campus, and with Michigan State projected to have another up-and-down season, the motivation for students to come back to campus for a game without much on the line could be a tough sell.
Moving the game to Ford Field in primetime gives the matchup more eyeballs instead of possibly getting lost in the Saturday shuffle. It lets both coaching staffs put in some work on the recruiting trail in Detroit, too, which is a hotbed for talent in the midwest. Michigan State also has several players from the Detroit area that get to play even closer to home.
All in all, I’m still not a fan of the decision. There are some merits to it mentioned above, sure. That said, it is a step in the wrong direction for college football in the long term. Games on campus are what make college football great, and the environment will just never be matched in NFL stadiums.
Beginning to remove conference games from campus for a cash grab from the networks can set a bad precedent going forward. It’s one thing if it’s Georgia vs Florida or Oklahoma vs Texas, which are played in true neutral sites. This is still a geographical home game for the Spartans.
While this specific standalone game might not make the biggest difference, once networks and schools start seeing more money from decisions like this, those off-campus games at NFL stadiums could become more regular.
I’m fascinated to hear in the comments what everyone thinks about this move. Like it? Hate it? Indifferent? All those opinions have been expressed today on Twitter, and a lot of good points are being made.