The difference was, our midweek games concentrated on one month primarily, the month of November. If you schedule it right, you end up playing out your conference race on national TV. And now because of the BCS, there are generally national implications with these games.That calls for a bit of good luck, Eastern Michigan playing Western Michigan would feature two teams working through rough patches; Buffalo playing Akron might be entertaining or not. There's a lot of play value in Northern Illinois at Toledo, but one such game, in which lots of points were scored, featured lots of empty seats at the Glass Bowl. Never mind that students and faculty might have other plans.
I in no way want to suggest anytime you miss class that it's not important, but of all the sports we have, and in our conference we offer championships in 23 sports, football players miss the least amount of class. We actually have a league policy, implemented by the athletic directors, that the home-team athletes have to attend class the day of the game. It's part and parcel of what goes along with college athletics, the travel involved, but there really is minimal missed class time. Some of the bigger questions are whether hosting a midweek game causes disruption to the rest of the campus, and can you manage that.I've noticed that one parking lot which used to be posted as "Football Parking After 4.30" (with leaflets placed on cars advising students and staff to plan to park elsewhere on game night) is now posted "No Football Parking". The next evening home game will be on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving. The University used to end classes at noon on Wednesday. About ten years ago they ended classes at 10 pm on that Tuesday. We'll see how many fans stick around for the game. Now other conferences are rolling out evening games (Thursday and Friday, mostly), and Mr Steinbrecher thinks it's worth it.
It's why I think we've had programs starting to take it and grow with it now and building national brands. I would contend that programs like Northern Illinois and Toledo are national brands now. It's facilitated some national recruiting in ways we did not have open to us before, and the results are showing themselves on the field.A Daily Chronicle analysis suggests the results show up off the field as well.
Each game on ESPN provides commercial slots for both participating institutions on the broadcast. According to Brad Adgate, research director at Horizon Media, these spots usually cost $3,500.Provided the high school student is an individual who can benefit from college. Recognition as a good place for mid-week parties is not the same thing as recognition for creative faculty, perhaps in numbers commensurate with the enrollments.
Beyond the pure monetary value of TV ads, Adgate says there are many other positive attributes that benefit the university beyond its football team.
"It helps in recruiting, it helps with the alumni, it helps with the overall sports program," Adgate said. "You're going to apply to a school you've heard of, rather than one you haven't heard of. There's a recognition factor that helps in elevating the prestige of the school and putting it on the radar of a high school student. There's a lot of different positives that can result from being on ESPN."
I'm tempted to give the last word on weeknight football in November to our meteorologist, who, in advance of the Ball State game, advised spectators to dress as if they were attending a January game in Green Bay or Chicago.