My Beef with Early Kickoffs

Yesterday afternoon, the SEC/ESPN released most of the start times for the first two weeks of the 2011 season. As I’m sure you know by now, Auburn’s opening tilt with the Aggies of Utah State, set to be played on September 3rd, was given the glorious start time of 11 am CDT and will be broadcasted on ESPN or ESPNU. I can’t think of a better way to start off the season than spending a summer morning/afternoon in 100 degree heat watching Auburn play an opponent such as Utah State. How about you?

The Tigers’ second game, a home match-up with Mississippi State and the fighting cowbell-ringing Mullens, was given the always coveted 11:21 am SEC Network (Who are we kidding? It’s still Jefferson-Pilot) game. Now I can understand the Utah State game being in the early, less desirable time slot, but not one of the early season SEC games with as many storylines that this one has.

The Auburn-Mississippi State rivalry has definitely taken a step up since last season with the Cam Newton stuff, Dan Mullen comparing the Toomer’s poisoning to the banning of cowbells, etc. With a good night time start, this would almost feel like an early Iron Bowl to me, but nooooo….

As it turns out, to add more fuel to the rivalry, Mississippi State can be thanked for the early start time, and not just because, you know, well, they’re Mississippi State. According to Scott Stricklin’s (State’s AD) twitter account, the Mississippi State athletic department requested the early start time, which ESPN granted. I don’t care why they asked, the fact of the matter is that a visiting team somewhat dictated the start time of a game. When did this start happening? Can teams start requesting early start times in Baton Rouge now? I’d think not.

I know everybody thinks that 11 am games are tough on the home team, and maybe they are. The crowd usually isn’t fully awake and into it, it’s hotter than normal, and it’s usually against a lower opponent, but I think this idea is a little overblown. Yes, Auburn was run out of the stadium by Arkansas back in 2006 in an 11 am game, but other than some lackluster performances, there haven’t been many losses. Auburn hasn’t played that many early games at home in the last two years (only 3), but I just don’t see anything like that happening with a Chizik-coached team.

So, I don’t buy into the early game jinx, and I don’t really, really care about the heat. It’s hot. Get over it. My main problem with early start times is that it pretty much ruins the chance for a good tailgate/gameday experience. Who cares if we’re playing Utah State? If I’m given a chance to be in Auburn, grilling, watching games, hanging out under a tent, etc., I’m fine. That’s really all I want. The games are fun, but just being able to spend a day based around Auburn football is what I really love to do. And no, post-game tailgating doesn’t do it for me. I’m not confident/cocky enough to plan for it, because if Auburn loses it ain’t happening. So why plan to hang out after if you don’t know if it’s going to happen or not?

Because of these terrible time slots, and the deplorable odd-year home schedule, it is likely that Auburn will not have a home game start after 1 pm CST (I’m assuming FAU’s start time) until the 7th game of the season (vs. Florida). Seventh. SEVENTH! OCTOBER FREAKING 15TH!

I have no idea how I’m going to last till then. It’s somewhat possible that both teams could still have a decent record by then, meaning the game would be very pivotal to each team’s season, and on top of that, given that I will have had no proper gameday experience until the middle of October, I might just do the whole thing naked.

Alright, so I’ll stop whining now. The games are set. The whole point is to win, not provide an entertainment platform the ‘Blogler outside of the stadium. I just…no I’m not going to say it. I just…stop. I know everyone expects us to be terrible, but the defending National Champions should not have to play 11 am games with the Vanderbilt’s and Mississippi State’s of the world. There I said it. Am I elitist, now? You dang right. I’m a National Champion.