Should the Pac-12 make a move to schedule games in the 9 a.m. time slot? Plus more USC football news involving Reggie Bush, Nick Saban and Jack Jones.
When it comes to scheduling kickoff times, the Pac-12 can’t seem to figure out the best way to do things, whether USC football is involved or not.
That may be because there is no truly satisfying way for the Pac-12 to navigate the difficulties of the Pacific timezone relative to the rest of the country.
The conference’s late games are seen as a disadvantage because people in the east won’t stay up late to watch them. Lack of exposure is certainly a concern. Plus, USC football fans do their share of complaining about having to stay up late for games scheduled in the 7:30 p.m. time slot.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News proposed a radical new idea for the Pac-12 to consider:
“Play a select number of games at 9 a.m. (Pacific) on Pac-12 campuses,” he wrote on Thursday.
Wilner’s idea isn’t thrown out there with no forethought. He has a reasonable, thought out proposal which limits the number of early games across the conference, with a rotation of three years ensuring every school hosts at least one early kickoff each cycle.
Best of all, he proposes that the games would be locked in with TV partners well in advance, giving fans time to prepare for the unconventional timing of it all.
He gets credit for thinking it all through…but the idea falls short.
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Mainly, it’s a lot of to fix one problem by creating another.
Fans will complain about having to wake up so early with no time to tailgate. The competition for eyeballs on TV would still be in play with the Big Ten already featuring prominently in that early time slot.
West coast teams are notoriously sluggish playing in the 9:30 a.m. Pacific time slot when that happens on east coast trips. Potentially impacting conference outcomes with that same concern doesn’t seem wise.
Moreover, a 9 a.m. start for a handful of games isn’t going to solve the conference’s legitimacy problem. The only thing that can do that is for Pac-12 teams to start playing better. That means matching the monetary investment of other conferences, performing in big out of conference matchups and offering real competition in a playoff run.
The fact of the matter is, the Pac-12 has always been underexposed. Back in the day it was because of travel and the location of media hubs. Now the issue is time zones. When Ohio State plays at 8 p.m. Eastern, that’s prime time. When USC plays at 7:30 p.m. Pacific, that’s “Pac-12 After Dark.” It is what it is.
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If the Pac-12 had been denied a rightful playoff spot, then the exposure problem would require more attention. However, no team from the conference can make that claim at this point. A one-loss Pac-12 champion has always had a seat at the table. The Pac-12 title winners who have been left out have all had two losses, and no conference has placed a two-loss team in the playoff in any case.
The question of money, not exposure, should be the key to this discussion.
If the Pac-12 wants to make an agreement with FOX Sports to cash in on the early time slot, then that’s one thing. That money could be spread throughout the conference to make everyone stronger. Otherwise, the early kickoff idea doesn’t seem worth it.
More eyeballs on subpar Pac-12 performances won’t change any minds. Only good football, played at any time of the day or night, will do that.
Reggie in the Hall of Fame
Reggie Bush is a Hall of Famer…for the New Orleans Saints.
The Saints announced a two-member Hall of Fame class for this season, including Bush and wide receiver Marques Colston.
For a player who has been described by some as a “bust,” it’s definitely a development worth chest thumping over.
Bush didn’t revolutionize the NFL as he was expected to as the No. 2 pick in the 2006 NFL Draft, but he was a key cog in New Orleans’ Super Bowl run in 2009-10.
In five seasons with the team, he amassed 4,982 all-purpose yards with 33 touchdowns. He also returned five punts for touchdowns.
For his contributions, the Saints will bestow on him a high franchise honor.
Nick Saban retirement talk?
If USC fans are hoping to see Nick Saban retire before the Trojans and Crimson Tide meet up in Arlington to start the 2020 season, they shouldn’t hold their breath.
Saban had hip replacement surgery this offseason and got a taste of being idle.
“That’s not something I enjoy,” he said. “That’s not something I want to do anytime soon I can tell you that.”
When he was asked about Vegas oddsmakers setting the over/under on his retirement in 5.5 years, he laughed it off but noted his plan for retirement is “no time soon.”
What’s that Jack?
Former USC cornerback Jack Jones, who was deemed academically ineligible before being arrested and charged with robbing a Panda Express in the summer of 2018, had something interesting to say about USC on Twitter on Wednesday night.
“SC don’t care about nothing but SC.. remember that,” Jones tweeted.
Interpret that how you will.