The SEC announced Monday that Alabama’s Sept. 21 home game against Southern Mississippi will kickoff at 11 a.m. local time. The school is not happy about it.
The school is so displeased with the news that president Stuart R. Bell and athletic director Greg Byrne released a statement to express the Tide’s position on the matter.
“We are disappointed that our game against Southern Miss has been selected as a daytime kickoff at home,” the statement said. “We realize we’ve played more non-conference day games at home in September than any other SEC team since 2014. There have been a number of conversations with our conference office, and they also recognize the challenges these kick times present for our student-athletes and fans.”
TV networks control kickoff times
The main point of contention here seems to be the weather. The Crimson Tide hosted New Mexico State over the weekend and those in attendance experienced near-triple digit temperatures while watching a 52-point Alabama win. Some portions of the stands at Bryant-Denny Stadium emptied out pretty quickly during that blowout, which kicked off at 3 p.m. local time. That caused Alabama coach Nick Saban, as he has done in the past, to challenge the student section to stick around and support the team.
On Monday, though, Saban acknowledged that the heat can be a “difficult circumstance for a lot of folks” while voicing a similar sentiment about the afternoon start times.
“Hopefully our administration will continue to work to try to play some of these games at a different time,” Saban said per Al.com.
Clearly Alabama would schedule more night games if it could (just like Pac-12 teams who complain about late-night games), but kickoff times are determined by television networks that have contractual rights to these games. Before the New Mexico State game, Byrne let fans know that “TV partners control kickoff times via contractual obligations.”
Thanks for the feedback today regarding kick times. A few comments -— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) September 4, 2019
1. Our TV partners (who we appreciate) control KO times via contractual obligations.
2. We will have 12 Water🚰 Monsters & sunscreen 🧴stations throughout the stadium. Bring empty bottles/Yeti cups 🥤
3. Please wear a hat 🤠& sunglasses 🕶️— Greg Byrne (@Greg_Byrne) September 4, 2019
4. I'm aware of our high number of day games.
5. I will share opinions & advocate @UA_Athletics interests where I can but rarely publicly.
6. Thank u to all of our fans for their incredible support.
7. #RollTide 🐘
Better opponents wouldn’t hurt
The opposing team is part of the issue when it comes to both attendance and television slots. If Alabama played better teams during the non-conference portion of its schedule, the team’s games would receive more interest from the SEC’s television affiliates, leading to more night games.
Similarly, fans who may be on the fence about going to a game may decide not to travel a long distance for a game that starts early in the day — especially when the start time is announced with just two weeks of advance notice, limiting options for lodging.
Saban went on a bit of a rant on Saturday about the quality of non-conference opponent Alabama can attract. New Mexico State, now an independent program, was paid $1.7 million by Alabama to play Saturday’s game.
“Why don’t you start calling around and see if you can get somebody else to play us and we’ll play them,” Saban said. “We’ll play anybody you can get to play us.”
Saban has long expressed his desire to only schedule Power Five opponents. On top of that, the school has begun scheduling more future home-and-home series with power programs, pushing aside neutral-site games like the one Alabama played against Duke to open the current season.
Alabama’s road game against South Carolina on Saturday will kick off at 3:30 p.m. ET.
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