Truth be told, I never thought there could be such displeasure over the early kickoff. To me it always seemed like a good thing. Get things rolling. Enough with the waiting, already. Of course, it also provides a much-needed backstop to the endless prattling of the Gameday crew. Without noon kickoffs to contended with, Saturday might well become a 12-hour marathon of self-satisfied ESPN punditry. By hour eight Lee Corso would telling tales of riding the electric streetcar to the World's Fair and Desmond Howard would be chasing squirrels around the back of the set. For Desmond, that's also known as "hour three," but that's a different post entirely.
Nevertheless, there seems to be more than passing distaste for the noon kickoff. Opinions certainly vary, so we'll give the nooner its day in court.
For the Prosecution...
Exhibit A: Geography. Central time is the best time zone. This is undeniable. All the good stuff happens an hour earlier. The news comes on at 4:00. And again at 10:00. SNL kicks off at 10:30 and you can be in bed by midnight (or 10:45, given how SNL has been of late). It's a timezone designed for the sane and productive. A quick perusal of your handy Rand-McNally atlas reveals that eight of 14 teams in the B1G are on Eastern time (all the best teams and Purdue). That leaves just under half the league in the blissful temporal environs of the Central Time Zone. The fly in the ointment is that the one-hour difference makes for strange bedfellows when it comes to the noon game. Either the good folks in the west suffer through an 11:00 AM kickoff, severely hampering the drinking-and-game-attending efforts of those whose livers still support such things, or the game is shifted to 1:00 PM eastern to accommodate a noon central time kick. The latter case, though rare, means that now you're sure to be missing some of the 3:30 games due to overlap.
Exhibit B: Kids. People have them, for reasons ranging from willful propagation of the species to "oops." Saturdays in the fall are prime calendar real estate for all manner of kid activities. Soccer. Ballet. Cub Scouts. Lacrosse (yes, Maryland fans, we remember). Various religious requirements. Kid stuff happens early, so the time and effort it takes to be a decent parent almost always coincides with that damned early kickoff. Your little princess will still be curtsying and plié-ing while Maryland is refusing to shake hands, or Michigan is tent-staking the house that Dantonio built. In either case, you're relying on the heiroglyphic settings of your DVR to record the game and not another episode of that cooking show where the prairie lady makes crock pot recipes ten times harder by doing them not in a crock pot. The smart money says you're getting three hours of how to make stew with antlers in vintage copper kettles.
Exhibit C: Booze. Depending on where you find yourself in life's great journey, your Friday nights may still consist of playing verbal cat-and-mouse with the opposite sex (or the same sex, which is cool) over the libations of your choice. If you're doing it right, that noon kickoff is probably going to be a bridge too far.
Exhibit D: Weather. Until late September, it can still be pretty damn hot at noon across most of B1G country. Even TCF Bank Field runs the risk of being a sweatbox for a noon game. If you go to a noon kickoff in Columbus and sit in the east stands, you should just wear white because you'll probably be scarlet by the third quarter.
For the Defense...
Exhibit A: No more waiting. It's Saturday. You've waited all week for this. After wetting your whistle all morning on a steady diet of ESPN, why suffer through MACtion or Sun Belt schlock? No Directional State vs. Mail Order University for you. It's 11:00 AM on God's time. Get the ball rolling.
Exhibit B: Booze. If you are young or just young at heart (and again, by heart I mean liver), this is the perfect excuse to crack a cold one at a 9:00 AM. Or earlier. It's Saturday! All you're driving is that remote control. Or if you're LPW, you're piloting a ship full of Tarpwestern fan angst. Pat Fitzgerald has probably been the foundation of many a big-ticket beer purchase in the Chicagoland area.
Exhibit C: The evening. Saturdays in the fall are sacred. But they're still the weekend. You've tossed your collar and cuffs into the fire. You've cast off the yoke of gainful employment. Five days of contributing to society is enough. You're owed a nice steak dinner at the finest purveyor of meats. More importantly, your better half is owed some quality time. (Sun Tzu would tell you that achieving both at once is the acme of skill.) Sound the feasting horn, friend. Drink deep from your flagon of ale and toast your Saturday night. Thanks to the noon kickoff, you can do just that. You've sobered up from the early barrage of lolIowa moments. A quick nap sent the remainder of your post-game malaise packing. Saturday night's alright for fighting, and you get in a little action in courtesy of the noon kickoff.
Without a doubt, the noon kickoff is a good thing. The midwest is a land of hearty, productive people. Up with the sun, tending to that which needs tending. That includes a good early football game.
What say you of the verdict, fair citizens of the commentariat?