Pac-12 Conference officials confirmed they have had preliminary discussions with Fox about having a Pac-12 game kickoff at 9 a.m. PT/noon ET as soon as this season in order to help alleviate night kickoffs and explore a new TV window to maximize exposure on the East Coast.
“We’ve discussed it recently. 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,” commissioner Larry Scott told NBC Sports. “I’d like to see one or two games this season that are 12 noon (ET) kicks be Pac-12 games and see what markets might respond positively to that.”
There would be at most one or two games after Week 3 that would even be eligible, writes NBC's Bryan Fischer. Mountain Time Zone schools like Utah and Colorado would be chief candidates. Scott, who has begun to feel out league athletic directors about the concept, says the early kickoffs would be completely voluntary for the schools involved.
UCLA head coach Chip Kelly, for one, would welcome the opportunity. “They could kickoff at 6 a.m. The hardest thing if you’re a college football player, is when you wake up and have to wait until 7 o’clock at night,” Kelly said. “We don’t control our schedule and when we kickoff so tell us when we’re kicking off and where it is, and we’ll be there. If he wants us to play at 9 a.m., we’ll play at 9.”
College football fans in the West have been vocal about having too many nighttime kickoffs in the 5 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. PT windows, which comprise roughly a third of the Pac-12's schedule on a college football Saturday.