I’m watching Maryland and West Virginia play college football on ESPN tonight, mostly beacause it’s college football and I’m an American male. It isn’t a very good game, even though the announcers are trying to will it to be so.
There’s something that isn’t quite right about college football on Thursday night, and those Tuesday and Friday night games that are televised from time to time these days are even more of an abomination. Maybe it’s just the power of tradition — my college student experience was all at Division I schools in the so-called power conferences and so I’ve been convinced for years that all college football games should be played on Saturday afternoon. (Just on what I’ve heard, I would exempt the LSU Tigers from that, as would anyone who has ever seen a game in Baton Rouge on a Saturday night.)
But beyond just being “old school,” I think my objections to weekday college football also come from my experience working in academe.
A couple of years ago, I attended a game at Clemson (Alma Mater No. 1) with a couple of friends. A Saturday football afternoon at Death Valley is worth another post, which will come a little later this fall.
I picked up a copy of The Tiger (http://www.thetigernews.com), Clemson’s student newspaper, of which I’m a proud former staffer. Among the stories in that issue was an account of campus preparation for the next game, coming up the following Thursday against N.C. State on ESPN.
It was a classic case of the tail wagging the dog. University employees were encouraged to leave work by 2 p.m. to free up parking for the fans coming in from out of town. Instructors who taught Thursday evening classes were free to make their own decision as to whether to cancel class, but the subtext was that they weren’t going to be discouraged from doing so. Don’t want to interfere with the big event.
I’ve covered big-time college sports enough to know that TV money drives these decisions and that fan (and in this case student/faculty/staff) needs are secondary. Remember when you knew at the beginning of the season what the kickoff time would be for a game in November?
Not anymore. Let’s see what ABC/ESPN/Lincoln Financial say first and if there are no TV takers, the game may just start at 1 p.m. like God intended.