LAWRENCE, Kan. (AP) - Kansas coach Mark Mangino got his start in the high school ranks, so he knows the magnitude of Friday night.
The idea of infringing on a night so special to so many is one of the reasons he doesn't like the idea of Friday college football games. The short week of preparation isn't exactly appealing, either.
So when it came time to schedule his team's game against No. 19 South Florida, Mangino reluctantly agreed to play on Friday night.
The reason, not surprisingly, was television.
Told the game wouldn't be televised nationally if it were played on Saturday, the 13th-ranked Jayhawks and Bulls had a choice between Thursday and Friday. Mangino didn't want to shorten his team's workweek by one more day, particularly for a road game so far east, so the teams worked out a deal to play Friday night.
``As I have said before, I would prefer not to play on Friday nights,'' Mangino said. ``But we have to take opportunities as they come.''
of these opportunities until recently.
Regulars on regional television, the Jayhawks haven't been much of a draw outside the Midwest, playing nationally televised games 10 times in 10 years.
That changed last year.
As the Jayhawks kept winning and moving up the polls, interest grew and national networks started picking up their games. Kansas played six of its final seven games on national television, including a 24-21 win over Virginia Tech in the Orange Bowl to cap a 12-1 season.
Finally in the national consciousness, the Jayhawks want to stay there.
``You never get tired of playing on ESPN,'' Kansas cornerback Chris Harris said. ``I know USC and Ohio State don't ever get tired of it, so we're not going to get tired of it.''
It's more than just a fun atmosphere, though.
Known more as a basketball school, Kansas has been at a disadvantage recruiting against Big 12 football powerhouses like Texas, Oklahoma and Nebraska. Playing on national television expands the Jayhawks' reach, gives potential recruits a chance to see there's some pretty good football being played in Lawrence, too.
a huge boon to Kansas on both fronts.
``We have been getting a lot of televised games the last couple of years because we have been playing at a higher level,'' Mangino said. ``That helps recruiting and that helps with people who make decisions with the rankings. There are a lot of positives about playing a game that will be watched by a national audience.''
The trade-off is the short week of preparation, no small task when facing a team like South Florida for the first road game of the season.
Normally, players get Sunday off to recover from the previous day's game. Mangino had his players on the practice field Sunday and again Monday, giving them a light day Tuesday before digging back in on Wednesday.
``As far as the preparation for South Florida, we are on track,'' Mangino said. ``We are not behind in any way. We have just had to put a little more time into it, but that is all part of the deal.''
No matter what happens, it'll likely be worth the hassle.
Mangino said it's too early in the season for a season-defining game; lose now and the Jayhawks still have a chance to run through the Big 12, stay in the hunt for a BCS bowl.
As for the players, most are thrilled about the chance to play in the college version of Friday Night Lights.
pumps you up for the week, but with two nationally ranked opponents, everybody is going to be amped.''
Of course, it could come at the expense of Mangino's roots, high schools.
Playing a nationally televised game on a Friday night could affect the gate at high schools in Florida and Kansas, perhaps other places across the country. Mangino doesn't like the idea, though knows he has to do what's best for his program.
Besides, high school games are being broadcast nationally more and more each year, giving the players and coaches the kind of exposure they've never had before.
``I am kind of old-fashioned in the sense that Friday nights have traditionally been reserved for high school football,'' Mangino said. ``But I have seen some high school games being televised nationally. I think that the network people are trying to be fair to high schools in that they need some Friday nights for college football, but they also want to promote high school football.''

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