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What do you think of early morning Cougar Football?

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It could be cool. Maybe?

Utah v Washington State Photo by William Mancebo/Getty Images

Good morning. With the news this week that the Pac-12 could be inching closer to striking a deal with an equity partner, the conference’s place among its Power Five peers came back to the surface. It’s no mystery that the Pac-12 is lagging behind the others when it comes to revenue distribution, due in large part to the smoldering tire fire known as the Pac-12 Networks.

But while a significant influx of capital could be a boon to the conference members, it will take improvement on several fronts to close the still-widening revenue gap. Obviously, improving the quality of the on-field product is the best way to improve conference perception, but along with better teams is the need for more exposure.

While #Pac12AfterDark has become kind of a trendy thing for west coast fans and college football addicts over the years, it hasn’t exactly been effective as far as drawing more casual viewers, largely because many of those potential folks are staring at their eyelids by the time the third quarter rolls around on Saturday night. So instead of late games, what about flipping the script and starting early?

That was the thrust of Jon Wilner’s proposal this week, and I’ll admit that I’m intrigued. While Wilner has a bad penchant for marrying himself to absurd takes during the season, such as how an unbeaten UCF would go to the CFP over one-loss WSU, he is very dialed-in to the day-to-day and off-field conference issues, particularly anything that involves conference finances.

Wilner is proposing that the conference stage four 9am starts per year, and rotate them among all the schools on a triennial basis. Here is the crux of his idea:

*** Play four home games per year — not four per team per year, four total — in the early window.

One date would be an early-September, non-conference duel; the others should be conference games scattered across the regular season.

*** Create a three-year rotation, so each school is the host for one 9 a.m. game per cycle.

*** Make sure no team serves as both 9 a.m. host and visitor in the same year; there could be no more than one early game per program over the regular season.

(The exception: If a team has a non-conference road game in the Eastern Time Zone that gets slotted for 9 a.m.)

*** Set the host rotation years in advance so that each school knows when the early kickoff is coming, then announce the specific date in the late winter or spring.

The 9 a.m. games cannot be part of the six- and 12-day in-season selection process. Like the Friday night kickoffs, they must be made public months ahead.

The advanced notice would allow fans to plan and give the schools time to create marketing/promotional opportunities around the early kickoff — either football-specific celebrations or day-long festivities across campus.

As with anything, there are positives and negatives to weigh when thinking about this. I’ll admit that I like the idea at first glance, particularly in terms of exposure. Those early games will be a part of highlight packages all day long, as opposed to the late finishes which might garner 30 seconds on College Football Final.

As with most things, however, sports opinions tend to be local. So in terms of WSU, what are the positives, and what are the drawbacks? Here are just a few that I see:

The Good

  • In terms of the WSU athletes, as Wilner mentions, it’s probably a lot better for them to be done with football duties at 1pm Saturday than 1am Sunday.
  • One of the drawbacks to attending any college football game is that you often miss a lot of the other action around the country. Once the 9am Cougar game ends, you have the entire day to soak in games from everywhere else.
  • If you live on the west side, you can be sitting on your couch by 7pm, and have all of Sunday to yourself.

The Not-so-good

  • Tailgating - 9am starts call for 6am(ish) tailgates. That’s an eaaaarrrrrly wakeup call, my friends. As someone who is rarely able to sleep past 7am on Saturday anyway, this would not be an issue for yours truly.
  • Travel - This is probably the stickiest issue for WSU. For fans coming from west of the Cascades, traveling on game day would be impossible, and we’re all well aware of the dearth of hotel room space in Pullman/Moscow.
  • Energy in the game atmosphere - College students don’t like to get out of bed before 11am or noon on most days. With a 9am start, how much electricity do you think the stadium would have if the students and players had to be up and ready to go for a 9am kick? It might take an entire half to shake out the cobwebs.

I’m sure there are more positives and negatives, depending on your personal point of view, but I’ll admit that I’m all in favor. For one thing, we’re talking about one game every three years, so it’s not like the world will tilt off its axis if WSU fans have to answer one early bell. And as far as west-siders having to travel the night prior, I don’t see much of a difference between heading east late Friday and getting a room somewhere - be it Pullman/Moscow, Lewiston or Spokane - versus having to spend Saturday night in one of those places because the WSU game ended at 11pm.

If conference leadership does this right (and that’s a big I-F given Larry Scott’s reputation) they could wait for Fox to announce the games it’s featuring in that time slot, which happened last week, and then slot the 9am games in other weeks when the opposing matchup will likely be, as Wilner illustrates, Minnesota vs. Purdue.

Also, at this point, the conference needs to take some drastic measures to increase its exposure to the college football masses, and ideas like this shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand. So I say try it for one three-year cycle and see if there’s a measurable uptick in exposure, however you quantify that. If there was no impact, do away with it and try something else. What do you think?

Poll

Are you in favor of WSU hosting a 9am game once every three years?

This poll is closed

  • 48%
    Heck yeah! Brunch with the Cougs!
    (206 votes)
  • 32%
    Ehh, maybe?
    (136 votes)
  • 18%
    That’s a terrible idea and anyone who likes it is a complete moron.
    (79 votes)
421 votes total Vote Now

Football

WSU and FCS opponents seem to be the college football version of the bridge builder joke, regardless of the fact that they’ve easily beaten FCS teams for two straight seasons.

Game to beware for each Top 25 college football team
The Cougs are breaking in another new quarterback and hit the road to play Houston the week after. Weirder things have happened.

Pac-12 Media

Regarding the first article, I wonder what would happen with the Pac-12 Networks if these two companies merged. Any merger would be several years down the line, but I’d be interested in some insider speculation.

DirecTV and Dish Network reportedly considering a merger (again)
While there are no active talks, a merger between DirecTV and Dish Network would likely face much less regulatory scrutiny in 2019 than it did back in 2002.

Maybe the Pac-12's equity plan wasn't as absurd as we assumed
The Pac-12, and the Pac-12 Networks as a whole, has been the butt of plenty of jokes in recent years.

Basketball

Revised Pac-12 picks for 2020 based on NBA Draft decisions
In the aftermath of draft and transfer decisions, we've updated out Pac-12 order-of-finish projections for next season, with Oregon dropping precipitously and a new preseason favorite emerging.

This Week in Parenting

Little League baseball is done for 2019 over here. Long live Little League baseball.

In other news, the first grader had what his teacher dubbed a “Writer’s Tea” recently. Each kid worked on a short story idea that that he/she then had to write and illustrate. Once they finished, the parents were invited to the classroom to enjoy a refreshment or two while the kids read their stories.

Most of the stories were what you’d expect - a Disney trip, getting a pet etc. Then one little girl came up and read a story about how her big brother calls her all sorts of names and is really mean to her. It was pretty heart-breaking, and I felt so bad for her (while wondering whether mom and/or dad were on hand to witness this). If that wasn’t bad enough, another painfully shy girl couldn’t bring herself to read her story about being bullied. She cried as the teacher read the story in her place.

I thought to myself, “Man, thank heavens my kid didn’t write a story like that. I’d feel awful.” So later on, it was his turn, and he marched confidently up to the front of the class as I sat in back. Did he write about being called names? Nope. Did he write about being bullied? Nope. All good, right?

Welp.

The story was actually pretty funny, and I found myself laughing more than once. It involved what is a typical Nerf gun battle that ended in several chases up the stairs, choke holds and mom breaking things up. If you have boys, you know. We’re currently shopping the manuscript around Hollywood, and expect to option the screenplay rights soon.

Beer

Best beer(s) I had this week: The remainder of this post is going to have a heavy D-Day theme, starting with this.

Join the beer business they said. It’ll be fun they said. - Part 1
If you’re a lover of IPAs then you should be no stranger to hops, its varieties, and the mind-blowing flavors and aromas they can produce.

Non-Sports

Continuing the the D-Day theme - a while back, we were at baseball practice on base when a couple F-15s flew in to do some pattern work. As they flew over the field on the downwind portion of the closed pattern, I noticed a striped paint scheme that I’d never seen before, so I had to see what it was about when I got home.

You may recall that I saw this at my German base. Now, I know that we’re friends, and have been so for a long time. I also know that Air Force planes like to do pattern work at different bases in order to mitigate pilot complacency, but this has to be one of the ultimate (and unintentional) “Scoreboard” situations ever.

Now to an article about D-Day which is an absolute must-read. There were several times when I caught myself gasping, and it underscores the fortitude and valor that was evident up and down the northern coast of France on that day. It also illustrates how perilously close the invasion came to failure.

First Wave at Omaha Beach - The Atlantic
An account of the “epic human tragedy” that unfolded when Allied troops landed on the shores of Normandy on D-Day.

Finally, I’d never heard the speech that President Reagan gave at the 40th Anniversary of D-Day, and it is something special. I was at Point-du-Hoc a couple months ago, and seeing the cliffs those men scaled, in the face of enemy fire, is breathtaking. I encourage you to watch it. There are also some larger themes in his speech that make one reflect on today’s geo-political climate. Happy Sunday.