Morning kickoffs very well could be a part of the Pac-12’s future, just not in 2019.
The conference has opted against scheduling games this season at 9 a.m. Pacific time/10 a.m. Mountain time as a means of gaining exposure on the new FOX broadcast window.
Andrew Walker, head of communications for the Pac-12, said several schools are interested in playing early, but the conference could not find “good options” over the coming three months.
The plan, Walker added, is to monitor whichever Big 12 and Big Ten games are slotted into the 9 a.m. window, then re-assess for next season.
By delaying any early kickoffs until at least 2020, the Pac-12 will allow time for the schools and fans to plan for the unusual logistics.
As the Hotline noted in June, an early kickoff could be used by the host school as a branding opportunity — the centerpiece for a daylong campus celebration.
At Pac-12 football media day last month, Commissioner Larry Scott expressed interest in the early games.
“We’ve discussed it recently,” Scott said at the time. “That would be new and out of the box for our conference, but I’ve tried to put everything on the table.
“There’s a lot of frustration from fans in certain markets to the late-night kicks.
“I’d like to see one or two games this season that are 12 noon (Eastern) kicks be Pac-12 games and see what markets might respond positively to that.”
Ideally, the conference would identify candidates for 9 a.m. kickoffs this winter, after the 2020 schedule is released.
It could then work with FOX on the specific selection(s) and announce the early games in May, in connection with the release of the kickoff times for all Thursday/Friday games and the first three weeks of the season.
That would give the host and visitor — and fans — enough time for preparations.