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Nitz: Learning to live with Wednesday MAC football games

There’s a lot of negatives surrounding midweek college football games.

Students may not be able to attend the game because of a night class. It’s tougher for fans with full-time jobs to get out to the stadium. Players miss class as well.

However, like it or not, that’s life in the Mid-American Conference.

And I know it’s unpopular among Northern Illinois fans, but I’ll come out and say it – midweek games are ultimately a positive for NIU and the rest of the MAC.

Sure, it’s unfortunate that for a game like Wednesday’s, when NIU takes on Toledo at 8 p.m., the stands won’t be as full as they would be for a Saturday afternoon kickoff. There will be those students who have have a test the next day and will be spending their time studying. After all, it is getting toward the end of fall semester.

There are always trade-offs. What’s more important is the football program and the university get the national exposure they wouldn’t normally receive on a Saturday afternoon.

Leagues like the Southeastern Conference and Big Ten will always, always get top billing. And quite frankly, it should be that way. Unfortunately for the MAC, it gets stuck with its scores rolling across ESPN’s ticker, maybe a mention on one of the highlight shows, and if a MAC team is lucky enough, a small highlight.

During the week, it’s a different story.

The worldwide leader can’t just show regular-season NBA games all day, and NIU will get to showcase its 9-1 team, one which should be ranked with a win over the Rockets, on national television.

When the game is over, there’s a good chance NIU actually gets some play on SportsCenter, when the Huskies have to compete with pointless NBA games rather than the rest of college football.

Playing during the week isn’t perfect, and the 8 p.m. start time Wednesday is pretty unfortunate. A normal 7 p.m. slot would help. However, such is life in the MAC, something Huskies head coach Dave Doeren certainly understands.

“In our conference it’s just something you have to do, and it’s part of our television package. At the end of the day, it’s what’s best for the university and the program to be on national television as much as possible,” Doeren said during Monday’s MAC coaches teleconference. “So, there’s certain things that you can’t really get bent out of shape about because nobody’s going to listen, and all it does is help you anyway. So we’re excited to be on ESPN Wednesday night.”

Players, coaches and fans from MAC schools are just going to have to deal with the trade-offs weeknight games provide.

When everything is said and done, being able to play on national television trumps getting the schedule switched around a bit.

• Steve Nitz is the Northern Illinois beat writer for the Daily Chronicle. Write to him at

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