My column: Noon kickoffs are enjoyable for soccer video games within the US state of Ohio
Oregon, Ohio, set to be on FOX at noon ET / 9:00 a.m. PT on Saturday, September 11th.
– FBSchedules.com (@FBSchedules) May 13, 2021
One trend I can’t stand lately is how many regular season games start at noon in the state of Ohio. For the past three seasons, at least half of the Ohio state’s regular season games have started at noon. For comparison: From 2015 to 17, the Buckeyes had four games or fewer at noon in each of those three seasons.
The only people I look forward to when a noon start is announced is the media covering the game, as they can leave Ohio Stadium at a decent hour after the game is covered. Night games are a nightmare for anyone reporting on the game as they likely won’t finish their job until after midnight. Anyone else who likes an early start is either an old one or a square one.
When it comes to kickoff times, things went downhill when the Big Ten and FOX hit a television deal and Big Noon Saturday became one thing. In contrast to ABC, which likes to broadcast its marquee game in prime time, FOX decides to play the best game of the week at lunchtime. I completely understand what they are doing from a business perspective. It just sucks when you’re the biggest draw the FOX has.
I understand that there will be noon starts for the state of Ohio. For the Buckeyes, it makes perfect sense to compete against mediocre teams like Akron, Illinois or Michigan at lunchtime. My problem is when the marquee non-conference game of the year for the state of Ohio starts at noon.
This doesn’t even take into account that Oregon takes off from Eugene at nine a.m. I know you can tell college football players that they are out in the middle of the night and are ready and ready to get into the game. I feel bad for the Oregon fans in the west who barely had time to watch the game before the expected matchup begins.
What makes kick-off time for the Oregon game even more difficult is that there isn’t much else to consider in the college football schedule for Saturday, September 11th. If ABC / ESPN had gotten this game, it would undoubtedly have been a late afternoon or prime time matchup. I know FOX will be happy as all eyes will be on Columbus as it will be the only game in town that takes place at noon across the country, but it doesn’t change the fact that there is a noon start for the Ducks and Buckeyes is incredibly boring.
Why I hate lunchtime starts so much
Most of the time, there doesn’t seem to be any energy for early kickoffs at Ohio Stadium. This may not matter too much against smaller opponents, but it could make a world of difference if the Buckeyes get sleepy against Oregon. There is a distinct difference between what you see from 3:30 am and what you play at night.
When I go to campus for a lunchtime game, I feel a little rushed trying to take care of anything that is needed before noon, and I just live on the other side of I-71 and Hudson . I can’t imagine how I would feel if I lived out of town and went to Columbus in the morning to play a game. I can’t even imagine what ungodly hour I would have to drive to Columbus if I came from Dayton or Mansfield.
What is the best kick-off time?
My personal preference for the start of the biggest home games in the state of Ohio is 3:30 p.m. This is the sweet spot of kick-off times. Lunchtime games are too early while primetime games are too late. A start at 3:30 am leaves plenty of time for tailgating / bar hopping before the game, but not too much. Night games may have a puzzle, but there is just too much time before the games start at night. Start smearing too early for a night game and the very real possibility it will turn into a hot mess.
Another thing I love about 3:30 starts, especially if we start later in the fall, is the backdrop of the sunset and darkness slowly creeping in. It’s not as majestic as the second half of the Rose Bowl, but there isn’t one. There aren’t many things that compare to the scenes in Pasadena on New Years Day. It’s just a very B1G feeling when a game starts in the afternoon and the sun goes away and the stadium is slowly lit up by the lights in late October or November.
What can you do about it?
There’s nothing we can do, we just have to sit there and take the slop that the Big Ten do when it comes to game start times. Essentially, this is old man B-Leez yelling at a cloud or telling you to get up from his lawn. If I win the Ohio vaccination lottery five times next month, I might be able to bribe some people to change this policy of earlier start times, but I wouldn’t be holding my breath.
I just think that the biggest games of the year in the state of Ohio should be treated as such. Do you think Alabama is playing its best non-conference game of the year at lunchtime? Is Clemson doing the same? I’m not Urban Meyer’s biggest fan, but one thing he emphasized that I liked was that the Buckeyes were supposed to be playing games later in the day. It is for this reason that during his time in Columbus you have seen so few high profile games that start at noon.
Let’s be honest You could put the horse chestnuts on at 4 a.m. on a Wednesday and people will be watching. There are definitely things in the world that are more urgent. The state of Ohio is what binds us together. Whether the games start at 12:00 noon or midnight, in the end we just want to see the dollars.