The word came in a press release Monday afternoon: When Washington travels to Oregon for their Oct. 6 meeting, kickoff will be at 7:30 p.m. It will be the Ducks’ third-straight night game, and it has ruffled feathers of players and coaches within the program.
“Usually we’re playing the late-night, like we have again this week, so no one on the East Coast, including my parents, can watch us play,” head coach Chip Kelly told Sirius XM before last weekend’s game against Arizona. “I guess that’s why they invented DVRs. … We don’t like playing night games, but we’ve got no say in that. We’re always late here. As a coach, you’ve got to sit around all day. You want to wake up Saturday morning, get some eggs in you and go play football.”
“Ideally, we would choose to play our games earlier in the day so our great fans all over the region could travel easily,” Mullens wrote in a letter to Ducks fans. “With this in mind, we will continue to advocate on your behalf regarding game times.”
But aside from contractual obligations to ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks, night games can define the season for student fans. Let’s not forget who shoulders the load when it comes to making Autzen loud. Under the lights, with bonus time to tailgate, the student section is always the rowdiest.
“(I actually prefer) night games,” University junior Eric Wallace [email protected]@http://directory.uoregon.edu/ws-directory-client/directory.jsp@@ “Way more tailgating, and ESPN coverage is a killer.”
In fact, outside of fans traveling throughout the state, who wouldn’t want a night game if you’re not the one actually competing? Maybe it’s a youth thing. Staying up past your bedtime to watch your team wax a patsy might not be worth it later in life. All I know is my favorite moment as an Oregon fan was Halloween 2009 — Fright Night against USC. The atmosphere, the cold weather, the win — it all combined for an unforgettable experience that wouldn’t have compared if it wasn’t under the lights at Autzen.
College Gameday analyst Kirk Herbstreit has said the Pac-12 is underrated because time zones force many East Coasters to miss West Coast games. But what’s better — stuffing a marquee Pac-12 conference game in the middle of a full slate of morning games or giving it its own national spotlight, however late that light might shine?
The Ducks are a national brand. Kelly’s last recruiting class spanned ten states and six time zones, and the dearth of quality teams in the Pac-12 means a matchup with any ranked conference foe (see: Wildcats, Arizona) is going to garner a late-night time slot with ESPN or the Pac-12 Networks.
But to those unaffiliated with the program complaining about late games: shush. Crack a beer. Enjoy your day, and then enjoy your night with your favorite football team.
Do it for the kids.