Pac-12 is considering early morning kickoffs

Pac-12 is considering early morning kickoffs
iStock/JOE CICAK

Pac-12 football fans might be waking up earlier than usual to see some of this year’s matchups, as commissioner Larry Scott said Wednesday he’s considering experimenting with a couple 9 a.m. kickoffs this upcoming season.

“There’s a lot of frustration from fans in certain markets to late night kicks” Scott said to NBC Sports. “I’d like to see one or two games this season that are noon kicks and see what markets respond positively to that.”

The Pac-12 would do this in efforts to increase exposure on the east coast. Currently, the Pac-12 has the lowest viewership of the power five conferences, something the conference has attempted to change by scheduling games during time slots they can expect to receive higher viewership, and when they don’t have to compete with bigger brand schools of other major conferences.

The Pac-12 late night starts have started as late as 7:45 p.m. While they’ve built a cult following by fans who have nicknamed the time slot ‘Pac-12 After Dark,’ the choice has been criticized by various Pac-12 coaches. UW head coach Chris Petersen said he wants the team to play at 1 p.m., and that late night starts tremendously hurt the teams’ national exposure.

The noon EST start would be great for east coast Pac-12 fans, but that doesn’t factor the reality that the majority of Pac-12 fans live on the west coast. The proposed start times have had mixed responses from Pac-12 coaches.

WSU head coach Mike Leach tweeted out to fans on Saturday to ask if they supported the idea of an early kickoff. The responses were mostly negative.

Do ANY West Coast fans actually think that it is a good idea to have 9am games?

— Mike Leach (@Coach_Leach) July 27, 2019

He noted that in order to prepare for a 9 a.m. kickoff the team would have to begin pregame preparations at 4:30 a.m. Leach suggested a start at 1 or 2 p.m. would make more sense.

However UCLA head coach Chip Kelly said he preferred starting in the early morning rather than late at night.

“They could kickoff at 6 a.m.” Kelly said. “The hardest thing to do if you’re a college football player is when you have to wake up and wait until 7 o’clock at night.”

Larry Scott began discussing the idea with Pac-12 athletic directors, and we could see a few 9 a.m. kickoffs as soon as this upcoming season. Scott noted that for now, the decision to have an early kickoff would be completely voluntarily for the schools involved, so if Leach does not support the idea, it is unlikely that WSU will be scheduling games in the time slot.