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My column: Noon kickoffs suck the fun out of Ohio State football games

Over the last three years, at least half of Ohio State’s home games have started at noon, which has really taken away the excitement from some of the Buckeyes’ marquee games.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: SEP 09 Oklahoma at Ohio State Photo by Jason Mowry/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

One trend lately that I can’t stand is how many Ohio State regular season games are starting at noon. Over the past three seasons, at least half of Ohio State’s regular season games have started at noon. By comparison, from 2015-17, the Buckeyes had four games or less kickoff at noon in each of those three seasons.

The only people I am happy for when a noon start is announced is the media covering the game, since it will allow them to leave Ohio Stadium at a decent hour after covering the game. Night games are a nightmare for anyone covering the game, since they aren’t likely to finish their work until after midnight. Anyone else who likes an early start is either an old or a square.

When it comes to kickoff times, it all started to go downhill when the Big Ten and FOX agreed to a television deal, and “Big Noon Saturday” became a thing. Unlike ABC, who likes to air their marquee game in primetime, FOX opts to run their best game of the week at noon. I totally understand what they do from a business standpoint, it just sucks when you are the biggest draw that FOX has.

I understand that there are going to be noon kickoffs for Ohio State. It makes perfect sense for the Buckeyes to take on mediocre teams like Akron, Illinois, or Michigan at noon. My issue is when the marquee non-conference game of the year for Ohio State kicks off at noon.

This isn’t even taking into account that Oregon will be kicking off when it is nine in the morning back in Eugene. I know you could tell college football players they are kicking off in the middle of the night and they’ll be ready and raring to go for the game. I feel bad for the Oregon fans out west who have barely had time to roll out of bad to watch the game before the anticipated matchup kicks off.

What makes the kickoff time for the Oregon game even harder to stomach is there isn’t much else of note on the college football schedule for Saturday September 11th. Had ABC/ESPN gotten this game, there is no question it would have been either a late afternoon or primetime matchup. I know FOX will be happy since all eyes will be on Columbus since they’ll be the only game in town at noon across the country, but it doesn’t change the fact that a noon start for the Ducks and Buckeyes is incredibly boring.


Why I hate noon kickoffs so much

More often than not it seems like there is no energy inside Ohio Stadium for early kickoffs. This might not matter all that much against lesser opponents, but it could make a big difference if the Buckeyes come out sleepy against Oregon. There is a definite difference between what you see from 3:30 and night game crowds.

Also, if I’m going to campus for a noon game, I feel a little rushed trying to take care of everything needed before noon kickoffs, and I just live on the other side of I-71 and Hudson. I can’t imagine how I’d feel if I lived out of town and were headed to Columbus the morning of for a game. I can’t even imagine what ungodly hour I’d have to start heading to Columbus if I was coming from Dayton or Mansfield.


What kickoff time is the best?

My personal preference on when the biggest Ohio State home games should start is 3:30 pm. This is the sweet spot of kickoff times. Noon games are too early, while primetime games are too late. A 3:30 start leaves plenty of time for tailgating/bar hopping before games, but not too much. While there is a mystique about night games, there is just too much time before games kickoff at night. Start lubricating too early for a night game and it has a very real possibility of turning into a hot mess.

Another thing I love about 3:30 starts, especially as we get later in the fall, is the scenery of the sun setting and darkness starting to creep in. It’s not as majestic as the second half of the Rose Bowl, but there aren’t many things out there that can compare to the scenes we get in Pasadena on New Years’ Day. There’s just a very B1G feel about a game starting in the afternoon and the sun disappearing and the stadium slowly being illuminated by the lights in late October or November.


So what can be done about it?

There is nothing we can do, we just have to sit there and take the slop that the Big Ten is dishing up when it comes to start times of games. Essentially this is old man B-Leez yelling at a cloud or telling you to get off his lawn. Maybe when I win Ohio’s vaccine lottery five times over the next month, then I can bribe some people to change this policy of earlier start times, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.

I just feel like Ohio State’s biggest games of the year should be treated as such. Do you think Alabama is playing their best non-conference game of the year at noon? Is Clemson doing the same? I’m not Urban Meyer’s biggest fan, but something that he emphasized that I liked was wanting the Buckeyes to play games later in the day. That’s why you saw so few high-profile games kicking off at noon during his time in Columbus.

Let’s be honest. You could put the Buckeyes on at 4 in the morning on a Wednesday and people are going to watch. There are definitely things going on the world that are more pressing issues. Ohio State is what unifies us, so no matter if the games start at noon or midnight, in the end we just want to watch the Bucks.