LOS ANGELES — Pac-12 After Dark has turned into a cult following in recent years late on Saturday nights during the football season but that could change in a big way on the sun dial for fans based on early conversations the league has had with its television partners.
The conference confirmed they have had preliminary discussions with Fox about having a Pac-12 game kickoff at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET as soon as this season in order to help alleviate night kickoffs and explore a new TV window to maximize exposure on the East Coast. While there would be at most one or two games after Week 3 that would even be eligible (and Mountain Time Zone schools like Utah and Colorado would be chief candidates), it certainly sounds like there’s a real possibility of it happening.
“We’ve discussed it recently. That would be new and out of the box for our conference but I’ve tried to put everything on the table. There’s a lot of frustration from fans in certain markets to the late night kicks,” commissioner Larry Scott told NBC Sports. “I’d like to see one or two games this season that are 12 noon (ET) kicks be Pac-12 games and see what markets might respond positively to that.”
Scott has only begun to feel out the league’s athletic directors about the idea, which he notes would be completely voluntary for the schools involved. Fans out West have been vocal about having too many nighttime kickoffs in the 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. PT windows, which comprise roughly a third of the league’s schedule on a college football Saturday.
“They could kickoff at 6 a.m. The hardest thing if you’re a college football player, is when you wake up and have to wait until 7 o’ clock at night,” UCLA head coach Chip Kelly added. “We don’t control our schedule and when we kickoff so tell us when we’re kicking off and where it is, and we’ll be there. If he wants us to play at 9 a.m., we’ll play at 9.”
The unusual idea is not without pushback already those within the league footprint but does coincide with a recent push by Fox to make a much bigger deal about the noon ET window with their college football coverage.
So get ready Pac-12 fans, because mimosas and mike linebackers is coming to your city soon enough.