Ohio State’s not actually playing your high school football team. But the Buckeyes will be competing for fans’ attention Friday night when they play Northwestern in Evanston, Illinois at 8:30.
It’s the first time Ohio State is playing a Friday game since the Big Ten began playing regular-season Friday night games in 2017. And it’s being met with criticism from local high school coaches.
“I think Friday nights are for high school football,” Pickerington North Head Coach Nathan Hillerich said.
Hartley Head Coach Brad Burchfield shares Hillerich’s sentiments.
“I’m not a big fan of it,” Burchfield said. “They’re thinking money and nothing more than that. I think when the small towns and the high school people say ‘Hey shame on you Ohio State for doing this’ I think they belly laugh and move on.”
Some games likely won’t be affected like Friday’s rivalry game between Pickerington North and Pickerington Central.
“I don’t even think it will matter,” Pickerington Central Head Coach Jay Sharrett said.
“I think our community is going to come out and support us and the surrounding area and I don’t think it should be any issue,” Hillerich said.
“I think everybody in this town is going to come to our game even though Ohio State’s playing that night as well,” Pickerington North Quarterback Jack Sawyer said.
But other, smaller games with less on the line may see attendance drop as a result of Ohio State’s game kicking off an hour and half after high school football games begin.
“I’m disappointed with just the sheer symbol of playing Friday night when the culture of Ohio is high school football on Fridays, college football on Saturdays and NFL on Sundays,” Burchfield said.
It remains to be seen what attendance will look like across the region, but one thing is clear: Buckeye fans are not nuts about the idea especially after the game was moved from FS1 to the Big Ten Network.