published Sunday, August 26th, 2012

UT opener shifts area prep games

Thursday games this week

Rhea County at McMinn County

Polk County at McMinn Central

South Pittsburg at Lookout Valley

Lakeview-F.O. at Gordon Lee

Fort Payne at North Jackson

A high school football game each in Alabama and Georgia had been scheduled for Thursday all along, but three games in Tennessee this week have been moved to Thursday because of the University of Tennessee's game against North Carolina State on Friday.

In at least two other situations one coach wanted to move a Friday game to Thursday but did not get mutual agreement. One coach, speaking on the promise of anonymity, said the Hamilton County Schools' central office was discouraging moving games.

Marion County coach and athletic director Mac McCurry moved his game with Whitwell to Thursday.

"We would probably lose some money on Friday in just general attendance, but we're trying to accommodate our fan base," he said. "A lot of them would like to see both."

Tyner coach Wayne Turner, who left this week's game with Brainerd on Friday, said fans for that game don't necessarily come for the rivalry.

"Folks don't come so much for the game as the fact that it's a social setting, but they have to pay to get in, so we'll take [the money] any way we can get it," he said.

Some coaches, though, either aren't worried about UT's TV date infringing on their night, which is part of Southern football religion -- high school on Friday, college on Saturday and NFL on Sundays -- or they are trying to make the best of it.

"Even though [high schools] are their feeder system, it's a business for them and they have to consider how they can best make their ends meet. I'm not going to cry but adapt as best I can," McCurry said.

"I know Coach Grant Teaff, who's president of the National Football Coaches Association, has been fighting that," Baylor coach Phil Massey added. "He thinks Friday is one night colleges shouldn't touch because they're slapping the hands of the programs that provide their talent."

"I don't think Thursday nights are good [for high school football]," Hixson coach Jason Fitzgerald said. "Friday is high school football night."

He then pointed out that Maryville played last week on Saturday, faces Alcoa today and has two Thursday night games.

Rhea County coach Doug Greene, a former college assistant, also believes Friday nights should be reserved for high schools.

"I'm not happy with the NCAA playing on Friday. It's on them, but they sold their soul to Walt Disney [company, which owns ESPN]," Greene said. "They don't need to be playing on Fridays, and they don't need to be playing on Sundays."

about Ward Gossett...

Ward Gossett is an assistant sports editor and writer for the Times Free Press. Ward has a long history in Chattanooga journalism. He actually wrote a bylined story for the Chattanooga News-Free Press as a third-grader. He Began working part-time there in 1968 and was hired full time in 1970. Ward now covers high school athletics, primarily football, wrestling and baseball and University of Tennessee at Chattanooga wrestling. Over a 40-year career, he has covered ...

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