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Penn State

Good sign for Penn State? The last regular-season Friday game led to a national championship

| Tuesday, Sept. 18, 2018, 5:51 p.m.
Penn State head coach James Franklin, steps off the the bus as the team arrives to take on Kent State in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.
Penn State head coach James Franklin, steps off the the bus as the team arrives to take on Kent State in State College, Pa., Saturday, Sept. 15, 2018.

Penn State ‘s James Franklin is no fan of Friday-night college football, having called it partly a product of “greed.” But the coach might like this: The last time Penn State played a regular-season game on a Friday, it won the national championship.

Penn State opens the Big Ten Conference schedule at Illinois, where it will play its first regular-season Friday game in 36 years. The Lions last played on Friday in 1982, when they defeated Pitt 19-10 on the day after Thanksgiving. Penn State capped that season by defeating Georgia in the Sugar Bowl for its first national championship.

Though he can point to that historic legacy of Friday football, Franklin has made clear how much he dislikes this game. From altering his team’s weekly schedule to infringing on high-school football’s traditional night, Franklin doesn’t have much good to say about playing on Fridays.

In fact, the Penn State coach cited “greed” as a factor in leagues — whether college or the NFL — scheduling games outside their traditional days.

Franklin has called himself a traditionalist who prefers the football model he grew up with: high schools on Friday, colleges on Saturday, NFL on Sunday. But as some of the smaller college conferences began marketing games on weeknights, Franklin said that some of the bigger conferences began chasing that revenue as well.

The Big Ten began scheduling regular-season weeknight games in 2017, kicking off last season with Ohio State vs. Indiana on a Thursday. Penn State has agreed to play an occasional Friday-night road game but said it would not host one at Beaver Stadium.

Penn State has said it would be willing to host a day game on the Friday after Thanksgiving.

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