Old Dominion's first Conference USA football home game against Middle Tennessee State has been moved to a Friday night so it can be televised nationally.
Originally scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 27, the game will instead be played a night earlier at Foreman Field. The game was moved at the request of C-USA officials, who will pay ODU $100,000 for the move.
Athletic director Wood Selig said playing on a Friday night will present logistical problems the school doesn't face on a Saturday. There are 45 classes scheduled on Friday nights, meaning parking could be an issue. ODU also needs to work with the city of Norfolk on traffic flow and made other adjustments if there is a high school game at Powhatan Field, located just off campus.
"But it's our first Conference USA home game, and it's on national TV," Selig said. "This game will require a lot of work, a lot of cooperation from everyone on our campus. But it's going to be worth it. This brightens the spotlight on ODU and our transition" to the Football Bowl Subdivision.
ODU officials have lobbied the conference for a Friday night home game to bring national TV to Norfolk. C-USA has television contracts with Fox Sports, which includes multiple networks, as well as the CBS Sports Network.
Unlike many college football game broadcast on Friday nights, officials expect this game to sell out; ODU has sold out all 35 games played at its 20,118-seat stadium.
"I can't wait to see Foreman Field under the lights on a Friday night," said quarterback Taylor Heinicke, who will be a senior next season. "The atmosphere will be intense."
Coach Bobby Wilder said the game "will be a 3 1/2-hour commercial on national television not just for our football program, but for all of Old Dominion University and the Hampton Roads area. There are going to be a lot of people watching us for the first time. And they are going to see a sold-out venue with an electric atmosphere."
ODU was 8-4 playing in its transition season into the FBS last fall. The Monarchs play their first season in C-USA this fall after going
46-14 in its first five seasons of football.
"The success of ODU football has not been lost on the national level," Selig said. "However, we've been unable to showcase our success as much as we'd like because of limitations on TV exposure beyond our control.
"But now that we're in Conference USA, a league with great television partners, the Old Dominion football story will become more widely known on the national level."
Although three C-USA games have been moved to Friday night, the league has not announced its television schedule. On average, each C-USA teams was on TV 10 times last season.
"This is just the tip of the iceberg," Selig said. "I anticipate that a number of our games will be on television, including national television."
Although not well-known nationally, Middle Tennessee has a rich football history. Coach Rick Stockstill has taken the Blue Raiders to four bowls in the past eight years, including last season, when they were 8-5 and tied with ECU for second in the East Division. They lost to Navy in the Armed Forces Bowl.
"We've had so many firsts here at Old Dominion," said Wilder, who has coached ODU all five seasons. "Now, our first conference home game is going to be under the lights on national TV. What a great opportunity to showcase our program."
Harry Minium, 757-446-2371, email@example.com