If the stakes are high enough, the fan bases engaged, Big Ten November Saturday night football will look like a success.
But, more often than not, if you’re at the stadium, you’ll be miserable watching it.
In a sports world where fan experience is increasingly better in front of an HD television, a few steps from your own fridge and toilet, the Big Ten’s decision to allow for night football in November won’t help.
In College Park, it’s less likely to be miserable in mid-November than in East Lansing. Still, what’s transpiring is a policy shift and, soon enough, TV money will talk and you’ll see November night games in New Jersey and Minneapolis, East Lansing and Ann Arbor.
I covered a league that sold out for television. For the Mid-American Conference, it was arguably just as financially necessary as it is for the Big Ten, on a smaller stage.
And, in the MAC, those games are midweek, testing the passion of already fair-weather fan bases. But climate was the same, the weather more often than not awful – freezing rain or frozen temperatures — sometimes a mid-game rain, followed by frozen temperatures, just to make the drying experience wonderful — usually with a stiff wind to make your bones feel brittle. It’s brutal stuff.
That’s where the Big Ten is headed.
And if a concern is increasingly butts in seats — as Big Ten athletic directors claim it is — this is the wrong path.
This first matchup is in the Big Ten’s warmest climate. But if this is a gateway to more games elsewhere — and it undoubtedly is — you’ll eventually feel it.