If Mondays aren’t bad enough this season for Texas Tech football fans, Big 12 television partners have gotten good at spoiling that day for them just before lunch each week. That’s when the Red Raiders are assigned another 11 a.m. kickoff, and it’s happening a lot lately. Counting this week’s 11 a.m. home game against Kansas State and next week’s 11 a.m. kickoff against Baylor, Tech will play six 11 a.m. games in an eight-week span.
Sports writers don’t mind the early kickoffs. Easier to put a 59-52 game into words at 3 in the afternoon with plenty of interview-room insight to draw from and a few hours to spare than to do it in 30 minutes just before midnight after a dash from the press box to a media room and back.
As for the players, a lot of them don’t like to sit around the hotel room all day waiting for a 7 o’clock start.
Fans are the ones put out. Merchants, too.
Here’s the only determining factor when the start times are assigned: TV networks hold all the cards. In June, the Big 12 announced the annual conference revenue distribution of $34.8 million per school. In return for lavishing all that money on the Big 12 and its members, TV then dictates who plays when. Totally. Without grounds for appeal.
“Television times are set at the discretion of the television partners,” Big 12 associate commissioner for communications Bob Burda said.
Locally, there’s a misconception that Tech athletic director Kirby Hocutt has some sway. Or should have. He’s chairman of the College Football Playoff Committee, right? He’s one of the highest-paid ADs in America, right? So he should be able influence somebody to put that Tech-TCU game at 7 p.m., shouldn’t he?
Well, that’s outside his sphere of influence.
“As you know, with the rights fees that television partners are paying,” Burda said, “it’s part of what they’re paying for is the ability to slot games as they desire.”
The inconvenience ramps up in October, when playoff and World Series baseball soaks up some more Saturday time slots that might otherwise go to college football.
None of this is new, of course, and it’s not limited to Tech. A couple of years ago, Oklahoma fans and merchants were the ones with a beef when seven Sooners home games out of 13 started before noon.
So the Big 12, and Burda, who handles communications for the conference, hears it from all corners in regard to morning kickoff times.
“We do quite a bit,” he said. “As you know, and I’m sure you’re hearing it there, in a perfect world, everybody wants to play in mid-afternoon or early evening. There’s just so many windows in those time slots to go around. Then you couple it with the commitment our television partners have with other conferences and that’s why see college football scheduled throughout the entire day on a Saturday.”
College football scheduled throughout the entire day on a Saturday. What a concept. Growing up, it was a treat to see your team play on television once or twice a year. I checked the record: From the time I was born to the time I turned 18, Texas Tech played on TV 29 times — eight bowl games and 21 in the regular season.
The 1973 and 1976 Red Raiders, two of the program’s best teams, played two and one regular-season game on TV. I don’t think it ever crossed my or anyone else’s mind to complain that the Red Raiders weren’t on TV more. We just looked forward to that one or two special Saturdays a year.
And now we’ve come to this: Every game televised and still finding a reason to complain.
Powered by WPeMatico