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Wait, why don't Big Ten teams want to play at night in the cold?

And why is this suddenly a big problem?

Good morning, and thanks for spending part of your day with Extra Points.

On Sunday, Pete Thamel at ESPN published a long and well-reported look at the problems the Big Ten has in actually executing their fancy new TV deal.

The whole story is worth your time. There’s a lot here, from the Big Ten apparently granting TV rights to NBC that actually belonged to Fox, to Big Ten coaches forgetting that they’re not actually in charge here, but the segment that seemed to really catch the attention of fans related to night games. Via the story:

There's tens of millions of dollars of value of the NBC primetime deal in flux, as Petitti has been racing to ensure it keeps as much of its original value as possible. Historically in the Big Ten, after the first weekend in November, schools were not required to play night games for myriad reasons -- health, recovery and campus logistics among them. These were known in league circles as "tolerances," and prior television contracts accounted for them.

Multiple sources told ESPN there's been pushback from a number of schools, including Michigan, Ohio State and Penn State, to play those late-November night games under the new contract.

There have already been a few trade-offs for the 2024 schedule, apparently to help appease NBC. Ohio State will host Michigan State on Nov 11 at 7:30 ET, and Michigan State will end the regular season by hosting Penn State at Ford Field on Friday, Nov 24. Ford Field, of course, is indoors.

The social media chatter that I read about these developments is that the major Big Ten brands were being “soft” by not wanting to play games in the cold. Is that the real reason?

Thamel mentioned health, recovery and campus logistics in his story, and I’m sure all of those play a role. But the more I talk to operations people, and dig into the numbers…I really think this is also about money.

Ballparking some figures here some from FY22 and FY21 itemized budgets I’ve obtained, a big-time Big Ten program can expect to pull in over $300,000 in gameday revenue from parking, programs, and concessions. They can pull in close to $6 million in ticket sales, to say nothing of all the fundraising activity and corporate sponsorship activity that happens at a game.

The only way you can truly maximize all that revenue is if the seats are actually full, which increasingly doesn’t happen. For example, Ohio State’s 2021 home finale against Michigan State, a game with a noon kickoff, had an announced attendance of 101,858. But when I filed an Open Records Request for the actual ticket scans, Ohio State told me only they only scanned 88,630 people. Even though Ohio Stadium holds over 102,000 people, the school told me they only actually sold more than 90,000 tickets, or had more than 90,000 scans…once.

That’s not just an Ohio State thing, btw….the “official” attendance number is usually higher than the actual number of people in the building…just about everywhere.

It’s hard to actually get 90,000+ people to show up and spend lots of money if it’s 16 degrees and dark. The big brands already know they can move 90,000+ tickets for a major November game during the day…why risk playing in worse conditions, especially when doing so might increase your security and labor costs?

Of course, NBC didn’t shell out big bucks just to broadcast Purdue and Maryland in primetime for a month, so everybody is going to need to figure out some longer-term solutions. That’s what the money is for. 

Viva La Revolutionaries

Also earlier this week, George Washington University unveiled its new nickname. Out with the Colonials. In with…the Revolutionaries. In true George Washington University fashion, the news was announced by Chuck Todd, and featured commentary from the founders of Punchbowl News.

Revolutionaries were one of the four finalists, along with Ambassadors, Sentinels, and Blue Fog. The school now has to figure out how to update all of the school’s signage, sponsorship campaigns, jerseys, merchandise, etc. Big day for everybody in the licensing world.

I’m not particularly interested in relitigating whether GWU should have changed its name from Colonials or not. I simply want to take this opportunity to lament that the school community decided not to go with hippos.

In my humble opinion, when you have the chance to pick a ridiculous animal as your mascot, especially when it could replace a dude in a wig, you simply have to do it.

Oh well. Here’s hoping GWU gets good enough at basketball again to host a College Gameday or something, because Revolutionaries does have pretty good meme potential.

Here’s what else we wrote this week:

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Enjoy the weekend everybody. I’m taking Monday off for Memorial Day. I’ll see you in your inbox on Tuesday.

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