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NFHS: Friday nights belong to high school football, not college

NFHS Executive Director Dr. Karissa Neihoff sounds off on major college football networks scheduling more Friday night games in 2024-25

For the most part, the bulk of the NFL's football games are conventionally played on Sundays, college football on Saturdays and high school football is typically reserved for Friday nights.

Should it stay that way?

In the fall, more marquee Friday night college football games are in the works for the 2024-25 season.

A notable voice in the high school football world is pushing back. 

In an op-ed published Wednesday, the National Federation of State High School Associations Executive Director Dr. Karissa Niehoff sounded off on ongoing efforts fueled by at least one broadcast network to increase the amount of college football games — marquee matchups, in particular — on Friday nights.

Speaking on behalf of all 50 state associations, Niehoff called on college football conference and TV networks to back off, arguing preserving Friday nights for high school football "helps every level of the game"

Niehoff argued the thousands of high school football games that take place on a given fall Friday night are symbols of community pride throughout the country. 

"Instead of flooding every day of the week with college football games," Niehoff wrote," we urge the major conferences and TV networks to leave Friday nights alone, because in the fall, those nights should be spent in the stands, not on the couch."

On March 7, Fox Sports announced plans to expand its "dedicated primetime window" for the upcoming season and feature Big Ten, Big 12 and Mountain West. The Big Ten is going from five to "at least nine" Friday night games in 2024, Big Ten commissioner Tony Pettiti told The Athletic in October.

“FOX is football, and our new Friday night package will make FOX the leader in America’s game throughout the weekend,” Fox President of Insight and Analytics Michael Mulvihill said in the press release. “We’ve built our collegiate business by seizing opportunities in previously underutilized timeslots, first with BIG NOON SATURDAY and now on Friday nights. Our goal this fall is to have the No. 1 college football game on both Fridays and Saturdays and the top NFL game on Sundays.”

That isn't working for some colleges. Michigan has outright refused to play on Fridays. An Ohio State told college sports journalist Matt Brown in October it doesn't want to "go head-to-head with the rich tradition of Ohio high school football Friday nights." 

Now, the high school world is speaking out. 

"High schools should not have to compete with colleges for that revered and time-honored space of Friday night. In the past, some high schools have had to move games to earlier in the day or to other days of the week to accommodate conflicts with colleges playing on Friday nights. This should never be the case."

>> Read the full op-ed here <<

Generic football state champs

Fans cheer on Rochester and St. Laurence in the Illinois Class 4A high school state football championship on Nov. 24.

-- Andy Buhler | | @sblivesports