Gophers coach Tracy Claeys said Wednesday that he is “not a fan” of the Big Ten adding Friday night games to the schedule for next season.
The Chicago Tribune reported that Big Ten’s new television agreement with ESPN/ABC and Fox will include six Friday night games, spread over six weeks next season.
The games, which will be revealed this week, will include three nonconference games in September and three conference games in October. Gophers officials said they weren’t sure if they’ll be selected for one of the Friday games.
“I’m not a fan obviously of doing that,” Claeys said. “I think that Friday night should be for high school football games. I believe that, and high school football is so important — especially to all the smaller communities.
“And being in a city and an atmosphere with a lot of teams in this area, I hope ours is on the road quite frankly, if we play on Friday night.”
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany told the Chicago Tribune that he’s reluctant to play Friday night Big Ten games in the larger stadiums because of traffic concerns. Michigan said no to Friday games, home or road, and Penn State said no to Friday home games.
Mississippi State added
The Gophers continued to add nonconference opponents to future schedules, with the latest being a home-and-home match-up with Mississippi State for 2026 and 2027.
The Bulldogs will play at TCF Bank Stadium on Sept. 12, 2026, and the Gophers will play at Davis Wade Stadium in Starkville, Miss., on Sept. 11, 2027.
“We have to play a Power Five conference team, and if we can get that one out of the way earlier it makes the scheduling a lot easier,” Claeys said.
“We recruit down in that area, so I thought it would be important if we could get a game down there.”
Last week, the Gophers announced home-and-home series with BYU (2020 and 2025) and Colorado (2021 and 2022).
Farrell praises Claeys
Rivals.com’s national recruiting director Mike Farrell gave Claeys an A-plus this week in an assessment of new Power Five coaches.
“The Gophers are 6-2 overall, bowl-eligible already and have a winning record in the Big Ten,” Farrell wrote.
Farrell’s other grades went like this: Virginia Tech’s Justin Fuente (A-plus), South Carolina’s Will Muschamp (A), Southern Cal’s Clay Helton (B-plus), Maryland’s D.J. Durkin (B-plus), Baylor’s Jim Grobe (B-plus), Syracuse’s Dino Babers (B-plus), Georgia’s Kirby Smart (B), Miami’s Mark Richt (B-minus), Iowa State’s Matt Campbell (C), Missouri’s Barry Odom (C), Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall (C), Illinois’ Lovie Smith (C-minus) and Rutgers’ Chris Ash (C-minus).
Pirsig expected to play
Claeys said he expects tackle Jonah Pirsig (ankle) and cornerback Zo Craighton (unspecified injury) to be ready to play Saturday’s game against Purdue.