KSL’s Unrivaled Explores Idea Of Starting Pac-12 Games Early On Saturday Mornings
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Getting attention from football fans across the country has long been the bane of the Pac-12 Conference’s existence.
Due to the different in time zones, it’s always been difficult for West Coast teams to be seen on television by viewers on the East Coast. For example, the season-opening game between Utah and BYU is scheduled to kick off on ESPN at 8:15 p.m. on Aug. 29. That means the game won’t start until 10:15 p.m. for those in the Eastern Time Zone.
It’s unlikely that anyone other than displaced, hardcore Cougar and Ute fans will stay up to watch the entire game, which probably won’t end until well after midnight on the East Coast.
This dilemma can affect the West Coast teams in many ways, from lowered television ratings to decreased appreciation in the polls as many voting media members reside on the East Coast.
It’s a problem that doesn’t only affect college football teams. NBA commissioner Adam Silver has also mentioned his league will explore the idea of starting games on the West Coast earlier in the evening in the future.
One news outlet has suggested a dramatic change. Jon Wilner of The Mercury News, located in the Bay Area, has proposed a plan in which the Pac-12 would rotate starting a few of its marquee football games at 9 a.m. PT or 10 a.m. MT.
By starting the games at noon in the Eastern Time Zone, the Pac-12 could theoretically reach a greater audience and increase its exposure to the media, thus increasing the odds that a Pac-12 player gets more season-long awards or that a Pac-12 team reaches the college football playoff.
To KSL’s Unrivaled hosts Scott Mitchell and Alex Kirry, what the conference is doing now with regards to scheduling needs a change.
“It makes no sense if you want a fanbase back on the East Coast,” said Mitchell, referring to games that start at 8 p.m. or later.
“Primetime on the East Coast is 9 p.m., so if you can have your games at 7, then you’re on at primetime and you would have a great fanbase,” proposed Mitchell.
Wilner’s 9 a.m. PT kickoff plan doesn’t sit well with Mitchell who played quarterback at Utah in the late-80s.
According to Mitchell, it’ll be hard for fans to get going early on Saturday mornings and that tailgating and attendance will suffer.
For Kirry, who says he routinely starts his college football viewing around 9 a.m. on Saturdays, it might be a good idea for television viewers, but not as much for the players.
While he doesn’t completely buy into the idea, Mitchell sees the value that could happen if major news breaks during a Pac-12 game early in the day, like in the event of a major upset, for example.
“That’s when you’re going to generate some interest and some conversation,” Mitchell said.