TSSAA Executive Director Bernard Childress remembers the phone call.
It came about 10 years ago.
Colleges were beginning to play more and more games on Thursdays and Fridays.
SEC Commissioner Mike Slive was on the phone with the TSSAA office and assured those at the state high school association that the Southeastern Conference would not join in on the must-see TV.
Friday nights would be left for high school football in the South. High school football was too sacred to hurt the gate receipts at local prep football stadiums for a college football game.
Fast forward to 2012.
The vow is broken tonight. The University of Tennessee will play N.C. State at 6:30 p.m. today in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game at the Georgia Dome.
Childress said he’s been promised by Slive and Tennessee athletic director Dave Hart that this is a one-time deal.
“They’ve assured me that this is a one-time commitment,” Childress said. “Slive told me their commitment to not playing on Friday nights is still there.
“We don’t want it to continue, and there is no way to think it will continue. We haven’t had a game on Friday for nine years. so there is no reason to think it will continue.”
I hope they are right and Slive will keep his word.
Eagleville was the lone school to move their game to Thursday from Rutherford County because Tennessee is playing today. Several others across the state followed suit.
Eagleville coach Steve Carson said his decision to move the game was strictly a financial one.
Despite hard times in recent years, Tennessee still has a strong following throughout middle Tennessee.
“We figured we could lose between $700 to $1,000 at the gate if we played it on Friday night because of that game,” Carson said. “That much money out of our gate is a big chunk.
“That may not be a big amount to others, but it still hurts.”
Tennessee should know a little thing about revenue losses. The athletic department recently announced its revenues were down about $4 million from the year prior.
Here in the South, Friday nights should be seen as sacred for college football programs. Reserve that night under the lights for high school. Play any other day.
Now, one can place the blame on ESPN as the reason for the decision to play on Friday. The game is part of a kickoff classic at the Georgia Dome with Clemson and Auburn playing Saturday.
It’s a big extravaganza. There is nothing wrong with such events. Just leave Friday alone.
Carson himself is a Tennessee fan. He has vision of grandeur for this year’s Vols. But even he is disappointed in his team.
“I’m definitely disappointed,” Carson said. “I’m not sure the SEC had much of a choice in this one. But it’s Friday night. It’s supposed to be a night for high school football.”
Siegel at Blackman
Brent Stockstill returns to the field this week for the Stars and will start according to coach Greg Wyant.
The way Siegel’s offense looked last week I’m not sure how much it missed the left-handed quarterback much. Blackman’s defense will be hard pressed to stop this dynamic offense.
Kreager’s pick: Siegel 31, Blackman 17
Oakland at La Vergne
If this game was only two quarters, it could be a dandy of a contest. La Vergne has led at halftime of its first two games. But the Wolverines have yet to face a team as well-rounded as the Patriots.
Stopping running back Travon Willis will be a big concern for Stanton Stevens tonight.
Kreager’s pick: Oakland 41, La Vergne 6
Riverdale at Smyrna
Most years this could be seen as the game of the night. But Smyrna has struggled this season. The Bulldogs were shutout a week ago for the first time since Oakland beat Smyrna 14-0 in the 2009 regular-season finale to keep the Bulldogs out of the playoffs.
Riverdale looked mighty powerful on both sides of the ball last week in a 47-7 rout of Louisville Ballard.
Kreager’s pick: Riverdale 48, Smyrna 9
MTCS at Cascade
The Cougars played some of its best football for three quarters a week ago against Ezell-Harding. MTCS led entering the fourth quarter before falling.
But Cascade is rolling right now and is ranked in the Class 2A statewide poll.
Kreager’s pick: Cascade 34, MTCS 6
DeKalb Co. at Cannon Co.
There was a time this was a significant rivalry game.
But Cannon County has struggled lately and some think this is one of DeKalb County’s best teams. DeKalb has outscored its first two opponents 115-0.
Kreager’s pick: DeKalb Co. 49, Cannon Co. 0
Last week: 9-0. Season: 14-4 (78 percent).
Tom Kreager is prep editor of The Daily News Journal. Email him at email@example.com. Follow him at Twitter.com/Kreager.