Sunday, October 07, 2007

Game Times

This is a good article from the Oxford Eagle conerning game times.

One thing is for sure about attending Ole Miss football games — you’d better check on the time for kickoff, regardless of whether you’re headed to Vaught-Hemingway Stadium on campus or to a road game the Rebels are playing.Already this season, the Rebels have had home games at three different times. Add in road games (even factoring in for time zone changes) and you’ve got another couple of time slots that have been taken.The Rebels hosted Missouri at 5 p.m., Florida at 11:30 a.m. and they have a 1 p.m. kickoff for Saturday’s Homecoming contest with Louisiana Tech. Next weekend, with the Alabama Crimson Tide coming to town, the TV folks are on hand and kickoff is at 11:30 a.m. again. With three more home games to go, including one against LSU, there’s a good chance fans — as well as the football team and local businesses — will have to figure in yet another starting time. It could be 2:30 p.m. or 6 or 6:45 or even 8, depending on TV’s wishes.So which time do fans, businesses, coaches, players and others really prefer? If we could go back to the days of very few TV games, what would you suggest to Ole Miss Athletic Director Pete Boone as far as a regular kickoff time?The majority of people involved with Ole Miss football in some form or fashion apparently prefer a late-afternoon or early-evening kickoff.“Night games, for sure,” fan Mark Dooty of Hattiesburg said. “The game atmosphere is more exciting. It’s just a lot more fun. People have got most of the day to get here and get ready.”“Most definitely night games,” Jeff Busby of University Sporting Goods said. “It’s so much better for retail (sales). People come in and shop all day and then go to the game. The later, the better.”“We like the evening games,” Tony Mize of the Beacon restaurant said. “Places that serve alcohol might like earlier games because of their hours, but we like to serve the breakfast and lunch crowds before they head to the Grove.”The preference appears to be for kickoff somewhere between 4 and 6 p.m. Later than that, it seems, doesn’t help.“Too late and you lose the chance to get people to visit the Square and eat after the game,” Randy Yates of Ajax Diner said. “I would prefer all of them to be about 4 p.m. We can get lunch and dinner crowds then.”“I don’t know that the games after 6 do us any more good. At some point, people are going to head to the Grove and the game,” Busby said.“Much after 5 and you start dealing with lots of late-night travel for the folks that go very far,” Dooty said. “Of course, lots of folks stay around here. But not everyone can. And when we head back home, it’s a lot better leaving at 9 than midnight or so.”There’s no question about which game time most fans and business owners like the least.“Kickoffs at 11:30 (in the morning) are the worst for retail,” Busby said. “You get just a few who get here in time to shop before the game and only a very small run by people on their way out of town. They’re headed home.”“Those morning games take away almost all of the lunch crowd we get,” Yates said. “And you can only do so much after one of those games.”“The only advantage for those games, or games at 1 or so, is that you’re not getting home too late,” fan Billy Petty of Enid said. “Part of the game is socializing before and after, and most of us prefer to do that before the game. That’s no problem with 5 o’clock games. In the morning, it’s tough because most folks just can’t get here early enough.”So who, if anyone, would rather play earlier rather than later?Would you believe the ones actually playing?“Yes, coaches would generally like to play earlier,” Boone said. “The teams have worked all week to get ready and then they have to sit around waiting when it’s a later kickoff. They’re not enjoying things quite like the fans in the Grove.”The compromise, outside of TV-mandated changes, by Boone and the Ole Miss athletic department involves different kickoff times depending on when the game falls on the schedule.“It’s really a weather thing, dealing with the heat of early games,” Boone said. “We decided a few years back to aim for night games — 6 o’clock or 5 — in September and switch to afternoon games — generally 1 — from October on.“We’ve gotten feedback from fans that wanted night games and they seem to want that 5 or 6 p.m. start. I haven’t heard a lot from retail folks, but it’s obvious they like those times, too,” Boone said. “So we factor in the fans and the team’s wishes and try to compromise as much as possible.”So it’s relatively simple – 5 p.m. in August and September, 1 p.m. the rest of the year. That is, unless one of the networks wants to televise the Rebels.“That’s usually about half the time, sometimes more, sometimes less,” Boone said. “There’s not a lot we can do about that. That’s why people put things like ‘TBA’ and ‘Time Subject to Change’ on tickets.”“I don’t mind TV; I just don’t like 11:30 games,” Dooty said. “For the time and money you spend (coming to games), you’d like for them to give you a chance for what you come up here for.”For now, however, the times will continue to be different. Even to the point of changing week to week.