Published August 25, 2011
Today is Rant Day -- a holiday I just made up -- and in honor of Rant Day, I'm going to talk about YSU's opener against Michigan State.
As many of you know, the game was moved from a noon start on Saturday to a Friday night start. This was Michigan State's call and in a press release on May 5, the school outlined several reasons for the switch:
1. "Over the years, fans have expressed increased interest in kicking off our home football schedule with a Friday night game on Labor Day weekend," MSU athletic director Mark Hollis said in the release.
I'm skeptical of this -- I think if fans wanted a night game, they'd rather it be Saturday night since most people work on Friday. Plus, Michigan plays Western Michigan at 3:30, which means Michigan football fans could have watched six or seven straight hours of football.
2. Hollis continued: "Since Michigan (K-12) schools don’t begin fall classes until after Labor Day, the vast majority of high school teams will play their football games on Thursday that week, making this a great way for our fans to kick off the holiday weekend. By moving the Youngstown State game to Friday night, it’s also our hope that the state tourism industry will receive a positive bump since most fans will now have the opportunity to make plans to enjoy the entire Labor Day weekend."
The release then followed with a quote from a "Vice President of Travel Michigan" that I'm going to ignore because, frankly, nobody cares what it said. But are we expected to believe that a bunch of people are going to travel into Michigan for the Friday night game, then stay all weekend in East Lansing? As if the majority of people at this game aren't already going to be from Michigan, where they already spend all their money? How does this help your tourist industry?
Plus, the vast majority of out-of-state fans will be coming from Youngstown and I think we can all agree that it's a much bigger pain in the butt for Youngstown fans to get to East Lansing on Friday (since they'll have no choice but to skip a day of work) than Saturday. But we're expected to believe that Youngstown fans are going to say, "Hey, let's spend some extra money and stay here an extra night or two to visit the tourism paradise that is Lansing, Mich."? How many people will do this? A dozen, maybe? THIS is expected to provide a big tourism boost to "Travel Michigan"?
Not only that, but the vast majority of Mahoning Valley schools will NOT be playing on Thursday night, which means most football fans around here will have to choose between watching YSU on TV Friday night or attending a high school football game, which guarantees just about everyone around here is going to lose in this deal. The only winners are Ohio State fans, since the Buckeyes also play at noon on Saturday. But, considering it's AKRON (whose only win last year was against BUFFALO, for crying out loud) and the game is being televised by ESPN, not BTN, I think most fans would have been OK with switching back and forth on their remote.
3. The game will be televised nationally by the Big Ten Network.
Ah, now we're getting somewhere. Because, you see, the No. 1 reason why this game was moved to Friday night is because the Big Ten Network stands to make more money with it being on Friday night, which allows BTN to serve up a pu-pu platter of Indiana State-Penn State, Tennessee Tech-Iowa and Middle Tennessee-Purdue at noon. But you can't exactly print up a press release saying "We did it for the money," now can you?
There is only one other game Friday night -- No. 14 TCU at Baylor -- which is one of those games that has broad appeal in Texas and ... other parts of Texas. So, obviously, MSU grabbed the biggest audience possible. And I don't have a problem with teams making money-related decisions -- after all, the main reason YSU is playing this game is because it's getting a $600,000 check -- but I hate spin. And this is spin at its finest.
While I'm ranting, I'd like to once again rail against the "It's not broke so let's fix it" mentality that led to changing Division I-AA (a concise, accurate label that everyone understood) to Football Championship Subdivision (which is just jibberish and reminds everyone that FBS stands for "Much crappier way to decide a national champion").
Also, Gateway Conference was a MUCH better name than Missouri Valley Football Conference.
(I feel better now.)
By the way, I wrote a story last August about guarantee games and how they benefit schools like YSU. You can check it out at: