When Nebraska made the decision to join the Big Ten, a lot of folks had the same reaction: that’s where the Cornhuskers belong. Iowa thought so as well as the two schools have already created a new Big Ten tradition by playing the day after Thanksgiving in an annual contest donned the “Heroes Game.” Now that their deal to play their first home-and-home series is over, both schools are pushing for their new tradition to continue, but it’s not a guarantee.
When the two teams’ 2013 and 2014 schedules were first sent to them, their meetings were on the Saturday after Thanksgiving instead of Black Friday. Iowa athletic director Gary Barta and Nebraska athletic director Shawn Eichorst are lobbying the conference to allow them to keep the games on Friday for at least the foreseeable future. If the Big Ten is smart, it will honor the request of these two schools.
Nebraska has been a national college football powerhouse while Iowa hasn’t, but has still been relatively competitive at times. The two teams have played close, low-scoring, old school-style football games on Black Friday the past two years and have drawn quite the crowd each time–over 85,000 in Lincoln in 2011 and almost 70,000 in Iowa City this past season.
Those numbers don’t include all the television viewership, which is higher than usual for these teams on Black Friday because mothers, wives, aunts, grandmothers, and girlfriends are out shopping on that day, leaving most men at family gatherings to watch football and if they can watch two old school, Big Ten teams go at it, they will. The fact the game is on Friday instead of Saturday ensures viewership, so it needs to stay on Friday.