MANHATTAN — Kansas State will open the football season with a rare Friday night game against North Dakota State.
The game, which will kickoff in prime time on Aug. 30, will be televised live on Fox Sports 1, a new all-sports channel that is set to debut later this month. But that doesn’t mean the Wildcats moved their game away from a traditional Saturday time slot to fulfill the Big 12’s new television contract with FOX Sports and ESPN.
Even though the contract is more lucrative and requires more games to be played on TV, the Big 12 is not required to play any Friday games.
“We have a commitment to play four Thursday night games each year,” said Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby at a news conference Monday. “Those four, over time, will be spread across all 10 institutions. We have made the commitment to do that. We try to always make sure that we always have an open date the week before or at the very least that both teams don’t have an off week so it is fair competition.
“Some will be road games. Some will be home games. Beyond that, we don’t have any commitment to weekday games.”
K-State chose to move its game to Friday for other reasons, including the extra exposure that comes with a prime-time weekday game, the chance to show off its massive stadium renovations to a large audience and the opportunity to avoid the heat associated with a Saturday afternoon kickoff in late August.
Normally, the Wildcats would avoid a Friday game at all costs. They don’t want to distract from high school football. But this game will be played before the start of the high school season.
“That would not have happened if it was the next week or any succeeding week,” said K-State athletic director John Currie, “because of the high school football season.”
Bowlsby doesn’t like the idea of Friday games in the middle of the season.
“A Friday night before the high schools have started or after the high schools have finished is a different matter than Friday nights during the season,” Bowlsby said. “I would very much discourage our institutions from playing on Friday nights and I think generally speaking they wouldn’t want to play on Friday night. Other than those Thursday evening games, we have no plans to play on other days of the week.”
Neither does K-State moving forward. But the occasional Thursday game will be considered.
“We want to provide value to our conference partners,” Currie said. “One of the ways we have provided value to our conference partners in the past is by being an institution that can occasionally host a Thursday night game. We have done that successfully since I’ve been here. We did that in 2010.
“We don’t want to do that every year. We recognize that it creates unique challenges, so we will work appropriately to do our part for the good of the whole conference. When you do play on Thursday night, it is a marquee night when high school players watch football games and the nation watches football games.”
Bowlsby compliments Snyder — As Big 12 commissioner, Bowlsby is expected to praise every football team in the conference. Still, he had some nice things to say about K-State football and longtime coach Bill Snyder on Monday.
“I think the job that he has done at Kansas State University is probably the biggest turnaround in college football history,” Bowlsby said. “… What Bill inherited was truly extraordinary. As I have gotten to see the facilities and see what has happened here, it is really remarkable. A lot of people had their hands on it, but I don’t think anyone has done more than Coach Snyder.”
Bowlsby was in Manhattan as part of a preseason tour of campuses throughout the Big 12.
Wichitans on staff — The K-State coaching staff has a pair of full-time coaches on staff that are both Wichita-area natives — defensive ends coach Blake Seiler and recruiting coordinator Taylor Braet.
Seiler, who is from Goddard and played at Bishop Carroll, was hired in January. He played at K-State from 2004-06 and spent the last two seasons as a graduate assistant for the defense.
“I’m new, but it’s great to be at my alma mater and a lot of the guys we have are new, too,” Seiler said. “I’m going to be asking a lot out of them.”
Braet is the son of longtime Butler Community College assistant coach Steve Braet.