COLUMBUS, OH - NOVEMBER 28: Athletics Director Gene Smith of The Ohio State University introduces Urban Meyer as the 24th head coach in Ohio State football history at a press conference on November 28, 2011 in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

Ohio State is wrong to pick TV partners over high school football

Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune, “We thought it was worthwhile to dip our toe in the water” when it comes to playing football games on Friday nights in the near future.

He’s wrong.

Friday nights are for high school football, at least in the Midwest.

Oh yeah, the Big Ten’s not a Midwest league anymore.

How’s that working out?


But this shouldn’t come as much of a surprise as selling out has become the rule, rather than the exception, as Delany’s tenure as commissioner has rolled on.

He looked like a visionary in 2007 when the league launched its own network.

Although that came with some growing pains – including acrimonious battles with networks over carriage and fans left in the dark at times as a result – it has worked out very well.

Not only a financial boon, and the Big Ten Network has increased exposure for many of the league’s sports that previously would have been on TV rarely if at all.

It’s good for recruiting and, of course, the bottom line.

Ironically, Delany cited a desire to avoid nontraditional start times for football games among the reasons for the league to strike out on its own 10 years ago.

Now after two expansions – at least one too many, in the eyes of more than a few – he’s got too many games for one day of the week.

So what choice does his league have but to risk putting his schools’ sources of talent out of business?

I’m as much of a capitalist as anyone, but I can still see there are points where something other than the bottom line should be taken into consideration.

Unless you’re Jim Delany. Or, apparently, Ohio State’s director of athletics.

While Michigan and Penn State have reportedly refused to host Friday night games, Gene Smith told the Columbus Dispatch his department supports the move.

The OSU AD acknowledged the potential downside for high school football, “but the reality is what we need to do for our television partners and what we need to do for our revenue stream, we needed to consider some different options.”

Really?

If you’ve been to Ohio State lately, you know they’re not short on money or ways to spend it.

For many high school athletics programs, that is not the case.

Now here comes one more obstacle for solvency that is far from necessary.

Friday nights are for high school football. They should stay that way — even if the Big Ten needed the extra money, but especially because it doesn’t.

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