Huskers, Hawkeyes striving to renew Black Friday football tradition by 2022

Huskers, Hawkeyes striving to renew Black Friday football tradition by 2022
Nebraska and Iowa will play on Black Friday in 2018 and 2019, but the tradition will pause in 2020 and 2021 before potentially returning in 2022. (World-Herald News Service)

LINCOLN — Nebraska and Iowa are working on renewing their Black Friday game starting in 2022, NU Athletic Director Bill Moos told the World-Herald Saturday night.

In a text, Moos stopped short of confirming a Land of 10 report that the return of the Black Friday game — after it takes a break in 2020 and 2021 — is a done deal. Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz broke the news at a youth camp Saturday.

“It sounds like we’re going to rekindle it,” Ferentz told Land of 10. He indicated the renewal may permanently pit the Huskers and Hawkeyes against each other on the day after Thanksgiving.

Nebraska and Iowa still play each other on Black Friday in 2018 and 2019. But they won’t in 2020 or 2021, and the lion’s share of the blame for that has repeatedly fallen on the shoulders of former NU Athletic Director Shawn Eichorst and former Husker coach Mike Riley.

Although the Big Ten said at the time there was no “hidden reason” for pairing Nebraska and Minnesota for the final weekend of Big Ten play in 2020 and 2021, Eichorst and Riley also initially supported the end of the Black Friday tradition.

“This makes sense from a student-athlete health, safety and welfare perspective,” Eichorst said in a statement in mid-September.

“These kids are busy enough, and then you cram a game into a short week, and when you get to that time of the year, as you go, the physical recovery and doing the right thing for them, I’m not sure,” Riley told The World-Herald after practice. Riley added he was “disappointed” Iowa had been removed as the final regular-season opponent.

Iowa did not support the end of Black Friday and may pursue it in 2020 and 2021 with Wisconsin.

Two days after those statements, Eichorst told reporters on the Memorial Stadium turf he’d made “a mistake” in how he communicated his support for ending the Black Friday game. He said he’d try to put the Minnesota-Nebraska contest on Black Friday, as well.

Eichorst was fired a week later following Nebraska’s upset loss to Northern Illinois. Riley was fired the day after losing 56-14 to Iowa on Black Friday. It was the Hawkeyes’ third straight win in the series.