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Friday no time for college football

09/14/2013, 11:10am PDT
By John Maffei

That day should be left to the high school game.

Friday's prep football action included a game between Cathedral Catholic and Helix, where the Dons' Sam Tapia (left) tried to tackle the Highlanders' Jalen Davis.

Cris Collinsworth believes in "a certain order and platform."

So when the former University of Florida All-America receiver, eight-year NFL veteran, NBC "Sunday Night Football" announcer, and part-time high school football coach in Kentucky was asked about college football teams playing on Friday night, his response was quick and to the point.

"I like it the old way," Collinsworth said. "Where I live, high school football is king.

"High schools should play Friday, colleges Saturday, and the NFL on Thursday, Sunday and Monday.

"High school football is the cornerstone of the game. It's where it all starts for the colleges and NFL.

"Friday is the night the focus should be on high school football."

I couldn't agree more.

But greed, the grab for the almighty dollar, is at the base of the problem.

Used to be there were two, maybe three college football games on TV on a Saturday. Now there are 30 or more games on as many as 10 networks.

CBS has a contract with the SEC. NBC has Notre Dame tied up.

Then there is ESPN and its family of networks - ABC, ESPN2, ESPN, ESPNU, ESPN3 - Fox and Fox Sports 1, the Pac-12 Network, the Big Ten Network, the CBS Sports Network, the NBC Sports Network, the Longhorn Network.

The networks pay millions of dollars for the rights to these games. With the Saturday schedule so crowded, Friday night is the next best day for the colleges.

This season, there are 35 Friday college football games on TV. In defense of the networks, 11 of those are on Nov. 29 ... the day after Thanksgiving.

A lot of those Nov. 29 games are in the daytime. High schools are deep into the playoffs, so I'm OK with that day.

Actually, I love watching the early games the day after Thanksgiving. This year, those games are Iowa-Nebraska at 9 a.m. and Arkansas-LSU at 11:30 a.m.

But how about Boise State-Fresno State playing this Friday night on ESPN? Utah State-San Jose State on Sept. 27 on ESPN?

BYU-Utah State on Oct. 4 on the CBS Sports Network? Boise State-BYU on Oct. 25 on ESPN? USC-Oregon State on Nov. 1 on ESPN2? Washington at UCLA on Nov. 15 on ESPN2?

San Diego State even gets involved, hosting in Nevada at 6 p.m. in Qualcomm Stadium on Oct. 4 on ESPN.

So the Aztecs will be playing opposite the very schools they're recruiting.

"I know this is all a dollar thing by the colleges," said Hoover High coach Jerry Ralph. "But it doesn't bother me that much.

"I really don't know how many people would pass up watching their high school team to go see San Diego State on a Friday."

Others aren't as sure.

"We're at the mercy of the one-eye monster that sits in our living rooms," said Oceanside athletic director Dave Barrett, who was the Pirates' defensive coordinator for more than two decades.

"At most schools, football carries the athletic and ASB budgets. The colleges, the TV networks, don't seem too worried about that.

"In Ramona, Valley Center, Fallbrook and Oceanside - places where community is so important - Friday night college football might not hurt. But it certainly could hurt other areas."

ESPN will carry 26 high school games on TV this season.

Fox Sports also has a number of games as does Time Warner.

Last week, Oceanside hosted Serra Gardena in the U-T Honor Bowl. Time Warner carried that game live.

Still, Simcox Field at Oceanside High was packed.

"America is about traditions," said Ramona football coach Damon Baldwin.

Baldwin is also the school's athletic director, so he's very aware of the financial end of the game. Plus, he coached a number of years at the college level, including San Diego State.

"High schools play Friday, college Saturday and the NFL on Sunday and Monday," Baldwin said. "So I don't like Friday night college football.

"Our kids can't see that game, and the college coaches can't see us.

"I don't know if it will hurt us financially because our fans are very much into the Bulldogs. But it could hurt some schools."

In San Diego's East County, City and South Bay, there could be as many as seven games within a 10-mile radius.

Between Escondido and San Marcos, there could be five games within about 7 miles.

There is a high school at every exit along the 56 corridor.

So fans have choices.

"I'm not a big fan of Friday night college football," said San Pasqual athletic director Andrew Clark, who also serves as the football team's offensive coordinator.

"I love watching college football on Saturday after we wrap up our practice.

"But please, let us have Friday."



Sept. 20 - Boise State at Fresno State, 6 p.m., ESPN

Sept. 27 - Utah State at San Jose State, 6 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 4 - BYU at Utah State, 5 p.m., CBSSN

Oct. 4 - Nevada at San Diego State, 6 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 11 - Temple at Cincinnati, 5:30 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 18 - Central Florida at Louisville, 5 p.m., ESPN

Oct. 25 - Boise State at BYU, 5 p.m., ESPN

Nov. 1 - USC at Oregon State, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 8 - Louisville at UConn, 5 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 8 - Air Force at New Mexico, 6 p.m., ESPNU

Nov. 15 - Washington at UCLA, 6 p.m., ESPN2

Nov. 22 - Navy at San Jose State, 6:30 p.m., ESPN2

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