A Student's Case Against Noon Games

By Grant Miller on February 23, 2013 at 11:30a
More night games at the Shoe? Yes, please.

We all love watching the Buckeyes play football. We all (well, most of us) hate spending money. But for many, the former outweighs the latter, much to the detriment of many bank accounts. Even so, last month's announcement that Ohio State is raising its ticket prices for all fans — including students — was met with anger and astonishment from some corners Buckeye Nation. 

I currently belong to the esteemed group of America's future gatekeepers known as college students. And just like all other fans, we put everything on hold once the band starts to march out of the north tunnel. Even with ticket hikes we'll still gobble up season tickets like Ramen. Still, that doesn't mean we are happy about seeing what we already see as an exorbitant price increase, especially because this is, ahem, our team.

Now I know that in context the ticket reform makes sense, especially with the excitement generated by Urban Meyer's first season. I also realize that these years we're on campus will be our best chance of getting tickets for the rest of our life, and that compared to the average fans we get considerable bang for our buck. However, we're college students, so if there's something to complain about, we'll do just that.

Amid the many headlines that came out of National Signing Day, one in particular stood out even though it had nothing to do with the fine class Meyer had put together:

That's right, noon games, the slot many associate with fall weekends in the Big Ten, could be a thing of the past, if the league's biggest coach has any say in the matter.

I felt like Buddy the Elf on Christmas Day hearing that news. You see, besides downing a late-night Caniac or complaining about construction, there is probably nothing else that Ohio State students love more than spending a fine Saturday at the Shoe. It's clear, though, that within that undying affection there is still one aspect of the experience that is forever met with disparagement by the legions of studying Buckeye believers: noon games.

But it wasn't until I saw the reaction to something I tweeted that I began to realize just how many people agree with me — and how opposed I really am to the traditional lunchtime kickoff.

Noon games aren't just a one of the many unpleasant realities of college football to an Ohio State student, they're the worst reality of college football to a student at Ohio State. 

When I think of noon games, I think snoozers that lack atmosphere. I am reminded of Minnesota, Illinois, Indiana and various other states of mediocre football. I think of half the student population hungover, praying that their sunglasses will help ease the pain.

Those who have been through them in the south end and in C-deck will know all about the yawns, droopy eyelids and faded bar stamps on the back of students hands, the sum of which must surely outnumber the total attendance for that day's contest.

Having zero energy and unlimited apathy at an Ohio State football game must be some sort of oxymoron, but in the case of these fixtures, it's the norm.

While antipathy is undoubtedly the consensus, there is a part of me that sees 12 p.m. as an important historical tradition of Ohio State football, especially when it comes to The Game. But in the canon of Ohio State-Michigan matchups, there is one notable example of the rivalry being played later in the day: 2006's Game to End all Games, Greatest Game Ever Played, Game of the Century between the top two teams in the nation. 

The much-hyped encounter was moved to 3:30 p.m. — as close to prime time as the Big Ten would allow. While that edition of The Game is a strong candidate for the greatest in a long and storied series, at the time, I thought at the time that moving it from noon was a huge mistake.

I missed the '06 game for this.

You know I'm a student. A bit of math will show that the game was played during my middle school glory years, specifically eighth grade. And even though I was a Buckeye fanatic then (I even went so far as to watch the 2003 National Championship Game on DVD bi-weekly), teenage me had priorities and that game, unfortunately, was not one of them that day.

It just so happened that the night of November 18, 2006, was to be one of our middle school dances, which only happened a few times per term. Pass up the opportunity to interact with girls in a non-school setting for three hours to watch sports? Nonsense.

It was a time of bizarro personal priorities: dancing to “1985” on a Saturday was infinitely more important than continual helpings of "Across The Field."  So this was the reason why I wound up missing arguably the rivalry's biggest ever game. The only positive consequence of my decision was joining the entire dance floor in singing "We Don't Give a Damn" once we found out the game was over and the Buckeyes victorious.

Clearly my feelings have changed, and I wouldn't hesitate to go back in time and tell that 13-year-old just how much of a problem noon games present to society, while also sprinkling in the fact that not everyone likes Coldplay as much as you do.

Maybe it's just a question of how I was brought up. I've always associated early tailgates with the Muni Lot or the Ralph, and less so with St. John Arena or the Olentangy River. Even though fans have endured noon games for years, that doesn't mean they're untouchable. It's time for a change that is long overdue, and it is the wish of our fearless leader, after all.

Part of me wants to believe that this suggestion is Urban's tip of the cap to the students and also to fans who share our distaste, especially in the wake of the price change that has so many up in arms. In reality, I know it has more to do with giving his staff every recruiting advantage possible.

I know I’m preaching to only a small group of people, and that many fans that are out of college won’t find sympathy with the perceived laziness of college students wanting to nurse their hangovers for a few more hours so they can be better at cheering on their football team. But I’d like to gently remind those detractors that without us, the students, there would be no university and no Silver Bullets.

Ticket price hikes are coming. I guess we can stomach that. But cutting down the number of noon starts will go a long way towards easing the pain. Being able to say that I was part of some of the best days a century-old stadium has seen means much more to me than the dollars and cents I spent to get there. 


Comments Show All Comments

harleymanjax's picture

I think College Grant should invent a time machine and go back and kick Junior High Grant's ass for missing that game!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

rlyle6's picture

^^ Totally agree. Nice write-up though, Grant!

cplunk's picture

I'm 41, soon to be 42, and far, far removed from being a student, but I am one hundred percent with you. I hate noon games. 
Not only do I personally dislike the early timeslot, but I think Urban is absolutely right. Noon games do hurt recruiting. I live outside Big Ten country (although maybe not for long- I'm in northern Virginia) and most my friends are therefore not fans of Big Ten schools. So what do they think of the Big Ten? The answer is they don't. Any football gathering is late afternoon or evening. Ask the group about the SEC or Big Twelve, ACC or even the distant P12, and everybody has seen games and has an opinion. But the Big Ten?
The most common answer I receive out here in any conversation about a B1G team is "I don't kow. I haven't seen any of their games. It's all slow power football anyway, right?"
We went undefeated last year. Every game was televised in this area. Only one of my friends saw any of our games besides TSUN.
the noon slot is a wasteland. If we want to be a prime conference and a prime team, ee've got to play as close to prime time as possible.

Mr Electric's picture

As a fellow student, I really don't like it when my fellow students complain about noon games. You live at most a 20 minute walk away from the stadium, which means you can leave after 11 and still get there in time for all the pregame festivities. How about you just go to bed before three in the morning and don't get so drunk you have a crippilng hangover? Even with the semester switch there are still only seven weekends out of the year when we've got home football games, and even now they aren't all noon games. You have plenty of other opportunities to stay up until sunrise and get completely wasted. Besides, it's not even like noon is early. You can get drunk and stay up until two in the morning and still have plenty of time to sleep off that hangover and get a decent breakfast.
It's much more inconvenient (relatively) for all the out-of-towners to drive in from who knows where and find a parking spot and get to a noon game, but none of them complain.
I would be a fan of more 3:30 and 8 p.m. games, because the atmosphere is better among all fans, but complaining about how you're still hungover is really the worst argument there is.

ajbosu1's picture

Geez, Mr. E you must be a blast at tailgates!

Mr Electric's picture

I'm the life of the party, especially when we have a noon game, since I'm usually the only one who's not still half asleep!

BrewstersMillions's picture

Then those cats did it wrong anyway. If by midway through your freshman year you aren't able to weave a long Friday night seamlessly into an early Saturday tailgate\football game, you've done something wrong. Hangovers are for Sundays and Wolverines.

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

"I would be a fan of more 3:30 and 8 p.m. games, because the atmosphere is better among all fans,"

Could this be because students aren't nearly as hungover at 3:30 than they are at noon.
3:30 > 8 > noon in my opinion.

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

doodah_man's picture

Looking at the specific issue of tailgating, it is always strange to be drinking and consuming tailgate food at 9 AM. Night games are better for this.

Jim "DooDah" Day

"If I were giving a young man advice as to how he might succeed in life, I would say to him, pick out a good father and mother, and begin life in Ohio.” --Wilbur Wright, 1910

741's picture

Totally agree.

toledobuckeyefanjim's picture

I've always wondered why Ohio State home football games start at noon, and many of the Michigan games start at 3:30. Many Wolverine fans don't like the 3:30 starts. This is where OSU and Michigan can trade the starting times. If UM fans like nooners, let them play at noon and the Buckeyes can follow them at 3:30.

andyb's picture

Grass is always greener.


I had to work a double shift that afternoon and evening of the 06 Game and still watched most of it in our break room. kind of flabbergasts me that any OSU fan missed that game.

I dont believe we should ban all noon starts. Thats crazy, but night marquee games are a different animal. The electricity seems more potent and players seem to always rise to the occasion. Its worth a discussion at least

"Sherman ran an option play right through the south" - Greatest Civil War analogy EVER.

Citrus's picture

I am 31 and a law student (spent some time in the Army). I couldn't agree more. Noon games sorta suck. I dislike them because they destroy the rest of the day.  I get up early and force myself to drink a beer or something and then go to the game. Afterwards I am just sort of sleepy. It is too early to do anything but too late to accomplish anything meaningful. I normally do something lame like nap. When the game starts at 3:30 I have time to do some reading and writing, pregame, drink some beer (while reading), eat a hotdog(sometimes while reading), listen to TBDBINTL and get pumped for the game. When the game is over, it is time for dinner, drinks and a night of fun. 

popeurban's picture

I get up early and force myself to drink a beer or something and then go to the game.  Afterwards I am just sort of sleepy

I'm 32, and I am glad I am not the only one who feels like a nap afterward. 

Buckeye in Illini country's picture

I'm 25 and I feel that way after noon games (especially if I am attending the game).

Columbus to Pasadena: 35 hours.  "We're on a road trip through the desert looking for strippers and cocaine... and Rose Bowl wins!"

Citrus's picture

Anyone that was at last year's Nebraska game knows that the crowd energy under the lights is second to none. 

thatlillefty's picture

We hosted USC at night and Matt Barkley is on record saying it was the loudest atmosphere he'd ever experienced.

Chief B1G Dump's picture

Same with Vince Young.

CC's picture

Iwas at both, totally agree but we also lost both.

DefendOhio's picture

I realize we can't have all night games, but I would take 3:30 over noon any day. 

BoFuquel's picture

Ban all nooners let The Li'l Eleven soon to be Thirteen have that slot not TOSU.GO BUCKS! 

I wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then.

Ashtabula's picture

Nothing tastes better than a cold beer at 8am tailgate...but I do agree that the stadium is not nearly the home field advantage during nooners.

yrro's picture

I actually like 3:30 games better than night games in general. The sun's out, and the time lines up well for a nice tailgate before *and* after, especially once it starts getting a bit colder.
Noon games to me always just mean they don't care if anyone comes to them.

NW Buckeye's picture

It is interesting how game times have evolved.  Before TV got so involved most OSU home games, and most home Big10 games, started at 1 pm local time.  That was just the time slot required for a complete football game to be played in daylight.  Very few, if any college stadiums had lights many years ago.  Heck, I can even remember when HS football played their games on Saturday afternoons as well.  My HS field added lights in the 60's, and they have been playing 'Friday night lights' ever since. 
When NCAA games were first televised any one team could only appear on television only a few times during the season - I don't recall the specific number, but I think it was 2 or 3.  And, there was also some type of formula about national and regional games.  As you can imagine, that really capped the games that were actually televised.  As I kid, I can hardly remember watching any night college games.  Once ESPN came along, and the networks decided they wanted more of a good thing, everything started changing. 
If you think the uproar over noon games is something new, think again.  When TV started forcing noon ET games because of other games to be broadcast later in the day there was quite an uproar.  Woody hated that OSU would actually cater to the broadcasting companies and actually push the game time around to accommodate them.  Many fans felt the same way.  However, he also hated playing late games as well. 
As we all know, TV is now dictating the start time for virtually every college game.  There are 4 time slots to be filled:  Noon, 3:00 pm (many starting at 3:30 as well), 5 pm, and 8 pm (all times ET).   On the west coast there is also the dreaded 8 pm PST start (which they love force upon visiting East Coast teams).  All this really means is that TV will continue to dictate when games start - as much as we would like to think that our opinions as fans who actually attend the games matters the fact is that what ever we think just doesn't have much impact on actual game times. 
For the TV execs, it is all about maximizing viewership for ALL televised games.  Yes, many would love to have a 3 or 3:30 start for the earliest game time in Columbus.  But the reality is that in order to maximize viewership for all games, that dreaded noon start will always be around.  The logic goes something like this:  Televising a meh matchup in Ohio Stadium, like UCF vs OSU will draw a certain amount of viewers regardless of telecast time.  The question is that if the game is televised in one of the more desirable time slots, how will that effect the viewership of the other games in the time slot as well as the viewership for the OSU game?  These decisions are made to give the networks their best shot of viewership for the entire day.  Putting OSU on at noon may be the spark they need to get viewers actually watching their Saturday games early, then never leaving the TV until the last game is played.  
ToledoJim pointed out that TTUN fans actually prefer the earlier game, but very few are played up there.  Just my personal philosophy that they don't get that time slot because TV execs know that not enough people will turn on the TV at the noon hour when TTUN is the headline.  However, it is a slam dunk that many fans will turn on the TV whenever they feature OSU.  (Had to take my shot at TTUN!). 
So the real message here is 'Don't hold your breath waiting for some major decision on eliminating noon games!'  TV will continue to dictate when the games will be shown. There is a move to get more night games in the B1G.  It used to be that the B1G was adamant about no games in Nov starting after 3:30 pm because of their concerns for fan safety and comfort.  (you can argue that philosophy all you want, but that was the underlying cause).  Well, nothing has changed in regards to the safety or comfort of the fans, but the TV time slots have now trumped that concern. 

salberico's picture

Eh, I certainly wouldn't want all noon games but I look forward to the ones in September. Nothing like a good beer buzz early in the morning. Wake up in the AM and don't have to wait all day for game time. Start w a couple bloodys or White Russians at the bar. I love walking out of the bar at 3:30 when the early game is over and squinting due to drunkness in the daylight. Great to be wearing shorts and sunglasses in the still warm weather.

RBuck's picture

The traditional start for OSU games prior to ESPN taking over broadcasts was 1:30. Before cable we might be lucky to see one other game besides The Game on TV during the regular season.
I for one, gladly have put up noon starts in order to see the Buckeyes every week. But...I actually prefer 3:30 starts. I've always wondered why they don't do 7:00 starts.

Long live the southend.

NW Buckeye's picture

A 7 pm start screws up the entire TV schedule.  An 8 pm ET start hits the 5 pm Prime Time weekend for the West Coast.  4 pm starts our here are far and few between.  And, yes, sorry - my previous post said 1 pm starts were the norm - you are indeed correct, 1:30 was the norm. 

Gametime's picture

I think our regular game time should be at 3:30 for all non-premium games & should alternate between 5pm & 8pm for all the premium games. Noon games should be banned altogether. They just aren't efficient enough as far as matching a prime weekender's schedule. These times also maximize local & TV business.

Between goals and achievement is discipline and consistency. That fire you have inside to do whatever you love is placed there by God. Now go claim it. ~ Denzel Washington

rightfield's picture

I am 45 (so I am in the geezer age group) and even I hate the noon starts or 1 or 2pm. For a school on the level that OSU is on, games should never start before 3:30 pm.

Its good to be the king

ShowThemOhiosHere's picture

I like later games better.  We've now played 3 full seasons since I've graduated and I still like later games better.  It's just mainly for atmosphere and stuff.  Plus, once I got drunk for a noon game and I had a hangover by 8 PM.  Should've kept drinking. 

Class of 2010.

13THandSummit's picture

Missed a couple of first quarters as a student from 06-10 recovering from a friday night on campus. Always hated the noon time slot.

Matt20Buckeye's picture

I totally agree. I hate noon games. I really think OSU, Nebraska, Penn St,and  scUM could get away with having all games at 3:30 or later. Let the smaller schools have the noon slots and get tv time they may not normally get. TV networks will put the big 4 on tv no matter what time they decide to play. Better for the conference and better for OSU.

Notor's picture

Noon games are the absolute worst for a student. No one wants to wake up at 10am hungover so they can go stand in the sun for 3-4 hours. So many people gave their tickets away/didn't go just because of Noon starts. The crowd is absolutely dead at this time.
My friends actually set up a Rule in 2008, known as the Boeckman rule, that dictated that during noon games we would leave the game whenever Boeckman entered the game to replace TP (barring injury). This was changed once Braxton began starting to the Bauserman Rule. This resulted in multiple first half/halftime bounces from the Shoe. To prevent this, don't have noon games and never play a Bauserman.

Qujo's picture

And the next major topic to be addressed is the lousy ass broadcasters Espn provides those noon time games. Beth Mowins, Puhlease.... The worst. Sean McDonough, jackass. So while we are on the topic of improving the Buckeyes lot in the ncaaf landscape, lets let Espn know we demand better announcers. No more sleepy yawners. I would rather be at every game but live in Texas and it is painful listening to these clowns. Having junior leaguers announcing a perennial top 5 team in the history of college football with subpar announcers, Puhlease.... We have a huge alumni/fan base spending lots of money with the cable outlets who pay espn... We should demand better. Let Indiana and Illinois and Purdue get the "b" announcers and the  noon starts.... When they put a better product on the field then they can dispute start times and crappy announcers...

Our arch rivals.... 11 National Championships, 10 before 1949 - eight of eleven shared. Trying to respect them... trying.... Ugh!

nickma71's picture

Ohio State against Indiana, the Nerds, Illinois, does not draw a national audience they way they do against bigger teams. Those games need to be on, and not up against say Mich-Mich St. Or Wisconsin-Penn State.

OurHonorDefend09's picture

I know it's not college ball, but the atmosphere for high school football games is pretty remarkable. All of their games are played at nights under the lights and it never seems to disappoint. Obviously, we have seen what night games can provide in terms of atmosphere. It's awesome and we need more of it.
Another great point Urban brought up about noon games is how the hell is he supposed to recruit someone in California if OSU always plays at noon? The recruits are obviously going to have a game the night before and would have to wake up by 9am just to see OSU play on TV. I don't know how far removed you guys & gals are from being 17, but Saturday's are the most glorious days to sleep in EVER. It really presents a problem of expanding the brand if a portion of your target audience isn't even awake to watch you play.

Don't give up... Don't ever give up.

Idaho Helga's picture

I'm on pacific time so of course I hate noon games.  Forget pre-game partying, I'm still in my jammies at 9am.  Urban is spot on about the atmosphere change by moving the start time and wants the "12th man" to help the team win and impress recruits.
I think Urban will get what he wants.  The powerhouse we are will mean the networks will adjust to play our nationally relevant games later than noon. 

AngryWoody's picture

The noon games have to go. Watching the games on TV sometimes I wonder if I'm watching PGA golf because the crowd is so drained. It's sad when you can hear Braxton audible in front of a crowd of 100,000+.
Besides can you imagine tailgating at 9 or 10 AM? Hard to scarf down eight pounds of sausage and sauerkraut when you just woke up. 

Our Honor Defend!

otrain2416's picture

Ticket hikes are coming for night and primetime games: I would pay more to go to night and primetime games because the atmosphere is unbelievably better and chances are your going to see a better game

We were born to love Ohio State and hate that team up north.

jwmort's picture

I used to hate traveling to the West Coast during football season, as my class sessions were also typically on Saturdays.  I would wake up to College Gameday and usually get to see the kickoff of the game.  I would normally miss every second of the game ... although I would get updates via SMS.  I too would like to see more starts later in the day, so I don't have to feel bad about drinking at 11am!

Homey1970's picture

Since I'm deploying to the sandbox again this year, let's keep the noon kickoffs for one more year.  Those noon eastern games will kick off at 8 pm in Baghdad.  I'll celebrate the "night" game for you and you can have a beer for me!  

cplunk's picture

I'll have a beer for you, and I'm ever around you I'll buy a beer for you. Stay safe.

osubuckeye4life's picture

I missed several 12pm games this year because I had to work. :(
I'm all for later kick offs!!!!! 3:30 is nice cause I leave at 4pm so I can listen to Keels and Lachey on the way home and then get home around the end of the 2nd quarter.
The 8pm games are amazing for atmosphere. 

bucksfan92's picture

Ever since they started noon kickoffs I have hated them.  8 pm is a perfect kickoff time for college football, an 3:30 is OK for lesser games (like the early season cupcakes or Northwestern, Minnesota, etc).  I graduated 20 years ago, struggled with noon kickoffs then, and still do.  There is simply no reason to start a game that early.  Remember these guys were all used to 8 pm kickoffs for high school football - when is the last time you saw a noon high school game?  Anyway, lets get those permanent lights in the stadium and finally kill that noon kickoff for good!

Haybucks's picture

The ticket prices should reflect the kickoffs.  $75 for nooners, $100 for 3:30 and $125 for prime time.  Would that make noon more palatable? 

If the world comes to an end, I want to be in Cincinnati. Everything comes there ten years later. -  Mark Twain


harleymanjax's picture

I prefer all night games, noon games REALLY cut into my beach time here in Florida!

"Because I couldn't go for 3"

dtanmango's picture

Agreed, I always felt that our games should have been later in the day -- 3:30 is a great time!