Conference Tries To Get National Attention At The Expense Of Fans
The season hasn’t even started, yet Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is already throwing up Hail Marys.
First, he announced that the conference will move its football conference championship game to Las Vegas. But only for two years. That’s some commitment.
Then he said the conference would explore playing games at 9 a.m. As in 9 o’clock. In the morning.
It’s already bad enough that marquee programs like USC and UCLA have to play some games on Thursday and Friday nights – Trojan fans loath those games – and now the commissioner is exploring the Pac-12’s version of Breakfast At Wimbledon?
I can’t imagine what some of my Trojans and Bruins fans friends would say if they had to get up at 6 in the morning on a Saturday to go to the games. Then again, I can – they would simply not go to the game. It’s already a hassle with the traffic and the high cost of the tickets and parking so they would just stay home and drink coffee. Perhaps switching to Bloody Marys or mimosas by the second half.
The alumni tailgate parties, such as the Cardinal and Gold club, would suffer because who wants to be there that early and even heavy tailgaters would have trouble downing drinks before 8 a.m.
And don’t forget about the bands, cheerleaders and students, all of whom would hate having to get up so early on a Saturday morning. That’s after a Friday night, after all.
Pac-12 attendance is already very low; not one school in the conference averaged as much as 70,00 per game in 2018 and many were in the 40s and 50s. Even the Trojans had just 55,000 per game in the 78,000-seat Coliseum. Does the Pac-12 really want to show its teams playing in half-full stadiums to people across the country when other schools are selling out 90,000 and 100,00-seat stadiums?
Think about what this would do for the players, too. They would have to (yawn!) be at the top of their game at a time when they are normally just getting out of bed. And then maybe the next week they are playing at 7:30 p.m.
Scott wants to fight the argument that East Coast writers can’t watch Pac-12 games because they don’t end until 1:30 or 2 on Sunday morning in the Eastern time zone. Those writers are covering games during the day and they are just too wiped out to stay up that late to watch, say, Utah and Cal.
So why not start the games at 8:30 Eastern time (5:30 Pacific)? Or even 4:30? The SEC marquee game is at 3:30 on CBS and yes, most national eyes will be on that game but if there’s a compelling Pac-12 game on after the SEC one ends, then it could be a great lead-in for the conference.
Of course, the networks all have a say in game times but even the thought of a 9:30 game is not only a dumb one, it’s a desperate one.