Pac-12 Will Not Schedule 9:00am PT Football Kickoffs In '19
The Pac-12 has "opted against scheduling games this season" at 9:00am PT as a "means of gaining exposure on the new Fox broadcast window," according to Jon Wilner of the San Jose MERCURY NEWS. Pac-12 VP/Public Affairs Andrew Walker said that several schools are "interested in playing early, but the conference couldn’t find 'good options' over the coming three months." He added that the plan is to monitor whichever Big 12 and Big Ten games are slotted into the 9:00am window, then "reassess for next season." Wilner notes by delaying early kickoffs until at least '20, the Pac-12 will "allow time for the schools and fans to plan for the unusual logistics" (San Jose MERCURY NEWS, 8/22). Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott last month said that the conference had held "preliminary discussions about the potential for playing a couple of league games in that time slot as early as this season." Scott cited "fan frustration with late-night kickoffs and the exposure for the Pac-12 in new markets as reasons to consider the change" (ESPN.com, 8/21).
ALL ABOUT TIMING: YAHOO SPORTS' Sam Cooper wrote playing a game so early in the morning would "undoubtedly impact ticket sales, but the potential ratings boon of a good Pac-12 game airing opposite a sleepy noon Big Ten kickoff on an ESPN network may be worth it for the conference and the television network." Fox is moving its top non-West Coast network game of the weekend up to 12:00pm ET in '19 in an "attempt to take advantage of the timeslot" (SPORTS.YAHOO.com, 8/21). ESPN's Mike Golic Jr. said a 9:00am local kickoff "would be horrific to be involved in as a player." He said, "You’re going to get bad, bad football if you ask guys to go out there at 9:00 in the morning.” Golic said the Pac-12 should pursue "more noon kickoffs maybe locally." Golic: "I know they’re afraid of the 3:00 window against the SEC and the things that come with that. But at some point, just being in that area as opposed to being on at 10:30 Eastern is a difference.” ESPN’s Jason Fitz: “Maybe you just fearlessly attack the 3:00pm slot and say, ‘We’ll at least give the world another game to watch’” (“Golic & Wingo,” ESPN Radio, 8/22).