By Michael O'Brien

And they'll play where ?

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Earlier this week the Big Ten announced that its schedules will contain a bye week and rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekends
So beside not getting to watch say Michigan-Ohio State, it will also move the Northwestern-Illinois games to Thanksgiving weekend
Now the game in 2008 will be played in Evanston, but what happens in 2009?

The Illinois High School Association lost a venue several years ago when Illinois State had the chance to host a post season playoff game?

Are the high school finals headed out of Champaign?

Right now, no one knows for sure
An IHSA administrator said that said that a call was played to the U of I, but with Rose Bowl euphoria there were no answers.

Since the Prep Bowl is held annually at Solider Field on the day after Thanksgiving, how about having the Illini and NU play on that Saturday at Soldier Field?

Just a thought

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I remember a few years ago when they held the championship game at N'western. Perhaps they could have the IHSA game at the home field of whoever is not hosting the UI-NU game.

Zook has made it clear that it's important for Illinois to continue to host the IHSAA football championships in Champaign. He knows how important recruiting is and he commented to the media his opinions on the matter shortly after the B10 decision to expand the season schedule.

So the alternatives might be:

1. Play at Soldier field.
The good news is that it is a "neutral" site and many fans for both schools are in the Chicago area. The bad news is that if you are in a tight league race you NEVER want to give up your home field advantage if at all possible. But this scenario appears to be the more logical alternative.

2. Play on a different day.
Play on Thanksgiving or play the game on Sunday following the IHSAA playoffs during years the game is at Illinois or play the game the following weekend when at Illinois.

In 2001 with the B10 title on the line Memorial Stadium barely had 50,000 fans go to the game out of 69,000 that could have found a seat. Football on Thanksgiving is a tradition for many, but not here. At least not yet. Over time Illinois fans would make a Thanksgiving game at home a long as the program is winning and for now that appears very realistic.

To play the game on Sunday would keep a home date at Champaign but you are up against the NFL. The only TV outlet may be the B10 network...if they surive.

Playing the following week or the first week in December would cause a lay-off which could be good or bad. But it extends an already long season. But many teams are still playing in other conferences and the Army/Navy folks don't seem to mind. Weather may be an issue as it'll be parka time but that doesn't stop the NFL teams or their fans. To say I won't watch Illinois in the snow but I'll gladly sit in Soldier field to watch the Bears when it's 20 degrees just doesn't wash.

What about moving the IHSAA playoffs? Have classes 1-4 in Normal and classes 5-8 at Soldier Field? The argument makes sense but Zook and the University WANT to host the playoffs as well as Champaign-Urbana businesses.

I'd try Soldier Field for two years and see how it works.

Illinois State was a perfect venue for High School playoffs. It is more dead center in Illinois than U of I will be. How about geographical sense here, folks?

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This page contains a single entry by Steve Tucker published on December 14, 2007 1:39 AM.

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