Pac-12 coaches give thumbs up to 9 a.m. PT kickoff idea


LOS ANGELES — Breakfast and Pac-12 football might go together better than fans in the Pacific Time Zone might like at first blush. At least that’s the feeling when talking to the league’s coaches at the conference’s media day.

Earlier on Wednesday, commissioner Larry Scott noted that the Pac-12 has engaged in discussions with Fox about possibly kicking off a limited number of games at noon ET/9 a.m. PT as soon as this season. That would be in the network’s new marquee TV window they are trying to build and would also bring the conference additional exposure on the East Coast.

While many fans have recoiled at the thought of waking up before dawn to make it to the stadium for a game, the coaches in the Pac-12 appear relatively enthusiastic about trading a late kickoff for a very early one.

“I know that’s part of the plan. We’re talking about that,” Colorado’s Mel Tucker said. “But for me as a coach, I just want to play ball. Put the ball down and let’s go play. So whatever the schedule is, the timing, the kickoff time, the opponent, it’s really not an issue for me. I just need to know when we’re going to kick off, and then I’ve got to get my guys ready to go.”

“As great as our atmosphere is at Rice-Eccles in a night game, as electric as it is, it’s tough to sit around all day,” said Utah’s Kyle Whittingham, noting he’s 100% behind the idea. “I’m not saying play one every week but we wouldn’t mind playing at 10 a.m. once or twice a season.”

Things would be much easier to accommodate in those two Mountain Time Zone-based schools and is not too far off from the 11 a.m. MT TV window on Pac-12 Networks that has been used on occasion. They’re not the only ones behind it though, as UCLA and Chip Kelly have broached the topic as well with the conference according to a source.

“When you wake up — if you’re a college football player or coach, you want to wake up and you want to play football. The hardest thing with Saturdays is when you wake up and then you’ve got to wait until 7:00 at night,” said Kelly. “If they want us to play at 9:00, we’ll play at 9:00; if they want us to play at 7:00 at night, we’ll play at 7:00 at night. Want us to play at 6:00 in the morning, we’ll play at 6:00 in the morning. That part, that’s — we always talk about control the controllables, and we don’t have the control over kickoffs. So they tell us when to play, we’ll play.

“But we practice in the morning, so we’re morning people. We’d love to do things in the morning. I don’t know if our fans would, but again, I don’t have a vote, so I don’t care. Just tell us when we’re kicking.”

The way things are trending, it may not be long before Kelly gets that notice of an early kick as the Pac-12 experiments with something completely out of the box.