IOWA CITY – There will likely be football games played under the lights at Kinnick Stadium this fall.
But unlike in past seasons, Iowa officials are not in a position at this point to know just which game or games the Hawkeyes will play at night.
That is a byproduct of the Big Ten’s new television agreements with ESPN and Fox, contracts which pay the conference increased dollars but come with changes including giving the networks a later deadline for deciding which games they will televise and what time they will start.
“In the old model, we would know in April or May,’’ Iowa director of athletics Gary Barta said, referencing the timetable that previously led to early announcements of which games would be played at night.
That won’t happen anymore.
A handful of Big Ten games have been selected for evening telecasts, none involving Iowa, but the starting time for virtually every game including a number of night games will not be determined until 12 days before kickoff.
The new contract also eliminates protected “windows,’’ meaning that Big Ten games can now air at the same time on different networks, meaning that one game could be televised by ESPN or ABC at the same time another game airs on Fox or its FS1 network.
Barta concedes that the previous arrangement did make it easier for fans and game administrators, helping planning for fans who travel to Iowa City for games and allowing additional staffing needs for night games to be put into place months in advance as opposed to less than two weeks.
“Change is tough,’’ Barta said.
The starting times for three Iowa home games – 11 a.m. kickoffs for the Sept. 2 season opener against Wyoming and the Oct. 7 homecoming game against Illinois and a 2:30 p.m. start on Sept. 16 against North Texas – have been set.
Times for four remaining Hawkeye home games – Sept. 23 against Penn State, Oct. 28 against Minnesota, Nov. 4 against Ohio State and Nov. 18 against Purdue – remain undetermined.
Barta suspects there will be night games among those four games, but how many and which ones he doesn’t know.
“I’m not going to be able to go to the Big Ten and get that differently. I don’t know that Penn State, Ohio State or Minnesota are going to be night games, but I know at least a couple of them probably will be,’’ he said.
“You can get your crystal ball out, pretend to be a TV executive for a minute and decide which one of those you might pick for a night game. You can probably have a pretty good idea, even though it won’t be confirmed until later.’’
Iowa played three night games a year ago, at home against Iowa State and Michigan and at Penn State.
Only two of the Hawkeyes’ five 2017 road games currently have starting times determined, an 11 a.m. game on Sept. 9 at Iowa State and a 3 p.m. game on Nov. 24 at Nebraska.