Rudel: Buffalo, some others not built for prime time
I understand the genie has been out of the bottle in college football for many years, and it won’t be put back in.
TV is driving the bus, picking the matchups and the kickoff times, and too many games are at night.
The television revenue has helped football staffs and athletic departments increase in size, and it’s why coaches’ salaries — particularly among the Power-5 conferences — have multiplied.
Players have seen the opportunity to get paid, and they’re transferring left and right, and some are bypassing their final collegiate season for a shot to make money.
If they’re shy of a degree, they figure they can come back and finish that later.
Virtually every Saturday includes a schedule of 25-plus televised games on some network. Not all are on ABC or ESPN, but run down the Mirror TV/radio listings, and almost every decent matchup has a television home.
And even some not-so-decent matchups.
Like Saturday night’s visit to Beaver Stadium by the Buffalo Bulls – not the Bills, the Bulls.
To be clear, I’m not against certain night games — big games, championship games, events. Ohio State and Michigan are one thing, and the whiteout is cool. Even anticipated tests, like Iowa, are understood.
But I am against the steady diet of night games being rammed down college football fans’ throats.
Penn State has averaged three nights games per season for the last six years. That includes Rutgers three times, Georgia State (never mind that the team with the iced kicker lost to Penn State 56-0 two years ago just beat Tennessee on Saturday) and now Buffalo.
Last year, the Lions had a 9 p.m. kickoff at Illinois. In 2016, State won a 39-0 game on Nov. 19 at night in Piscataway, N.J., which ended in front of about 200 frigid PSU fans, mostly family and friends.
James Franklin is constantly touting Beaver Stadium’s 107,000 capacity, and there’s no doubt Penn State’s fan base makes the Nittany Lion football experience unique. Example: Just drawing 104,000-plus for the glorified scrimmage that was Idaho.
This year, Penn State will have played two night games before Oct. 1 and potentially two more before Halloween (guessing at Iowa and presumably Michigan, although some think Fox will spring a noon start there; we’ll see).
Often we’re not talking about 6 or 7 p.m. They’re at 7:30 or 8, which really means like 8:15 by the time the network says go.
Generally, these games are much more challenging for fans, who ought to be considered more than they are because they’re the ones building the atmosphere.
There could be a significant no-show factor Saturday as the middle game of a three-game stretch and one in front of Pitt.
At the risk of being called a curmudgeon, I don’t think Penn State-Buffalo should be at 7:30, and while lodging that complaint, I submit that college football must decide what it wants to be.
Unfortunately, we all know that it has.
Rudel can be reached at 946-7527 or firstname.lastname@example.org.