It’s never to early to start looking forward to opening day. The college football off season is a grueling 233 day slog. This season we’ve only gotten through 57 days so far, but instead of dwelling on that, let’s fantasize about what opening day could look like.
For eight years college basketball has showed us the way. Aided by ESPN they start the season with a megadose of the sport to get everyone going. They play games around the clock for 24 hours. College football could do that too. Looking at this year’s schedule, here’s how.
Friday, September 2, 2016, 12:00 pm local time, 12:00 pm EDT
Some teams will not want to play at noon on a Friday, even if it is the Friday before a long weekend. Other teams are very willing to kickoff the season on national tv. A Big 12 – SEC matchup would be a big enough draw to start the season, and teams like West Virginia and Missouri would probably be willing to move kickoff to suit television.
Friday, September 2, 2016: 2:30 pm local time, 3:3o pm EDT
This is the kind of game where the teams may not want to move. Clemson and Auburn is going to be on national television regardless of the kickoff time. They may not be willing to play on a Friday afternoon, but they have both played their share of Thursday night games, so they may. An exclusive window would also be a nice carrot to entice a big Friday afternoon matchup.
Friday, September 2, 2016, 6:00 pm local time, 7:00 pm EDT
Here is another major national game where the teams may be reluctant to move, but Friday night is an easier sell than Friday afternoon. Notre Dame has traveled to Ireland and played at odd times before, so this could work too.
Friday, September 2, 2016, 7:30 pm local time, 10:30 pm EDT
West coast teams talk about East Coast bias and relish opportunities to have both a normal kickoff time and East Coast exposure. Even though it’s on a Friday night, this game accomplishes both. It’s another great opening match that should draw some interest.
Saturday, September 3, 2016, 6:00 pm local time, 2:00 am EDT
This game is already slated to be played to open the season. The kickoff team hasn’t been announced, so this would be doable. The teams have agreed to travel to Australia to play. Kickoff time would then be a minor detail. It’s not must see tv for everyone, but for 2 am on the east coast, it’s pretty good.
Saturday, September 3, 2016, 11:30 am local time, 5:30 am EDT
This is the hardest time slot to fill. There aren’t many places where the game can be played during normal game times where there would be much of an audience. Continental Europe is the best bet. Most of the European soccer stadiums could host. Paris, Rome or Berlin could all work.
In order to draw any sort of international crowd there would need to be some teams with name recognition. Alabama and Southern Cal are about as big as it gets. That should help with attendance, but the big name means these programs don’t have to travel if they don’t want to. It could be a tough sell, but can you imagine what would happen if the Crimson Tide fans descended on Paris? How much fun would the Finebaum show be the next Monday, “Paul, we took the boat into Normandy, like we usually do…”
Saturday, September 3, 2016, 1:00 pm local time, 9:00 am EDT
This game is already scheduled to be played in Dublin, so it’s just a matter of kickoff time. Like the game in Australia, this game shows that 24 hours of football with some international sites is feasible.
Saturday, noon eastern.
It would now be time for all of the regular, Saturday schedule. Depending on what time the west coast games finish it may end up being closer to 36 or 38 hours of college football to kickoff the season.