Thursday, September 3, 2009

MSU-Michigan Could Be a Night Game

Update: Joe Rexrode reports that this game has been finalized as a 3:30 p.m. kick. From an answer to a question in his LSJ chat today:
Joe Rexrode: Thank you for asking, BNS. to make this clear, the Michigan game is NOT a night game and will not be. It will be noon or 3:30. Night games for that weekend on the networks are already established.
Honestly, that's probably for the best. I love night games, but I stand by my analysis below that night games involving the University of Michigan are a bad idea given student safety concerns. Still, two night games this year is enough to be getting on with, surely.


Michigan State, for the first time in its history, could play a pair of home night games this season.

The Iowa game on October 24 has been confirmed as a 7 p.m. kick. That will allow for maximum TV exposure on either ESPN or ABC, one of which I'm pretty confident will pick up that game (likely ABC, if Iowa and MSU play as expected).

But in an interesting policy shift, MSU officials said there's a chance Michigan will be a night game too. The Lansing State Journal reported yesterday that it's a done deal, and that the game will kick at 8 p.m., though officials at MSU this morning told me that the start time has yet to be finalized and they "don't know where the LSJ got their information from."

Still, the fact that they're even discussing a night game against Michigan is a massive change of plans for a university that at one time considered banning night games altogether. Incidents of drunken debauchery and sexual assaults after previous night games led Ron Mason to all-but swear them off - backed to the hilt by the president's office.

In 2005, when I was on the East Lansing Riot Review Commission, we talked at length about "disturbances" and MSU football. The consensus was basically that it wasn't really an issue, though MSU and East Lansing police did say that their incident calls increased dramatically around night games.

The one thing that did worry us, again, not on the riot level but on a student safety level, was a night game against Michigan. People already pre-drink the Michigan game to a level not generally seen for other games, and being able to go until 8 p.m. would be a staggering amount of time for one to get one's buzz on.

I don't know if the LSJ's account is accurate - it wasn't written by Joe Rexrode, but it hasn't been corrected either - but if it is right, that will be one crazy night. I'm just hoping in a good way.

By the way, it's worth mentioning that MSU has an away night game scheduled as well. We'll be playing Minnesota at 8 p.m. on Halloween in their brand new TCF Bank Stadium.

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