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OPINION: Could playing on Black Friday benefit Penn State football?

With new reports indicating Penn State football will play on Black Friday this year, could a Friday game actually benefit the Nittany Lions?



Penn State Football, Black Friday
Sep 27, 2019; College Park, MD, USA; The Penn State Nittany Lions run onto the field prior to their game against the Maryland Terrapins at Capital One Field at Maryland Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Editor’s note: This is an opinion piece and reflects only the thoughts and opinions of the author.

In the United States, the day after Thanksgiving is called Black Friday. On Black Friday, retailers give massive discounts on their products. Shopping on the day has been hectic as people battle for deals. The day has been known for going to stores and eating leftovers. Over the years, Black Friday has increasingly become a day for football, with games spread across the afternoon as shoppers return home to their TV sets. And according to one new report, Penn State football may be the latest team to make the jump from Saturday to Friday viewing this season. 

Several new games have been added to the Black Friday slate this season

This year, Black Friday will be known for football. The NFL is playing its first-ever Black Friday game when the Jets host the Dolphins. Thanksgiving is synonymous with NFL football, and now so will Black Friday. 

But many Penn Staters who are Eagles or Steelers fans will not have a rooting interest in this game. The Eagles and Steelers play in the NFC East and AFC North, respectively, and the Black Friday game is an AFC East matchup. But there is some good news for Penn State football fans who are bored on Black Friday. 

Penn State football set to take on Michigan State on Black Friday, per report

This weekend, ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that Penn State will have a short week as they travel to East Lansing to take on the Michigan State Spartans on Black Friday, November 24th. For the first time since 2019, Penn State football will play a game on a Friday. 

James Franklin has been very public about his disdain for playing on Fridays. In 2018, he made his position clear when he told reporters, “Yeah, I’m not a fan of Friday night games. Friday night is for high school. Truly, Saturday is for college. And Sunday is for the NFL.”

Franklin went on to say the reason college football games are being played on Fridays is because of “greed.” There is not much on TV on Fridays during college football season, and thus, games on Friday do pretty well with TV ratings. Therefore, playing games on Friday would make networks a lot of money. 

The value of Friday for Penn State

Friday nights are also important for James Franklin and Penn State football recruiting. Franklin and his staff have been known to take a helicopter to various high school games when the Nittany Lions’ gameday schedule allows. Obviously, this is not possible if Penn State plays on a Friday night. 

Pennsylvania’s football culture, like many other areas, involves playing high school games on Fridays, college games on Saturdays, and NFL games on Sundays or Mondays. The upheaval of this cycle has caused many Penn State fans to become angry with schedule makers. 

But Black Friday might not be the worst time to play a Friday game. By late November, many high school teams have finished their season, which could lessen the recruiting blow. Additionally, by the end of the season, Penn State should be better equipped to handle a shortened game week, as opposed to playing on a Friday earlier in the season when the team is still trying to find its footing. 

The Nittany Lions’ recent history of success in weekday games

Personally, I think Penn State fans should be happy that they can see their team play a day earlier on rivalry week. There will be something to do on Black Friday other than shopping, and fans can watch all the other rivalry games on Saturday. 

But, the Nittany Lions have a recent history of success when playing on Fridays. In 2018, Penn State played Illinois on the road and won 63-24. In 2019, Penn State played Maryland in College Park and won 59-0 on a day the school canceled classes. This past season, Penn State opened up against Purdue on a Thursday and won 35-31. 

So, while Penn State and its fans alike might not like playing on days other than Saturday, Black Friday could be a good time for the Nittany Lions if the trend continues. But like it or not, this is the hand that the Nittany Lions have reportedly been dealt, and James Franklin will have to adapt to it as best as possible. 

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Jersey born and raised. When was the last time you missed a Penn State football game? I don't know either. Let's talk sports. Ravens, Yankees, Penn State everything.


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