Offseason Hot Take: Ohio State and Michigan Should Start Playing Night Games

By David Regimbal on February 18, 2019 at 2:45 pm
The best version of Ohio Stadium

READER BEWARE: This #HotTake is mine alone and does not necessarily represent the views of Eleven Warriors.

College football's greatest rivalry deserves the grandest stage. 

Historically, Ohio State and Michigan kick off their annual rivalry game at noon. Traditionalists like it that way. It's familiar and gives both fanbases a sense of continuity that's synonymous with the rivalry itself. 

It is also extremely dumb and bad. 

This is coming from someone who, in his own right, favors tradition. I personally cringe every time the Buckeyes suit up in one of their ghastly alternate uniforms, primarily because their regular jerseys are so exquisitely perfect that any alteration feels like a sin against nature. The #teens love them, however, and as I morph into the dadphase of life, I've learned to accept it.

But the game's best rivalry deserves better than a noon start time. 

Imagine if Led Zeppelin wrote Stairway to Heaven as a three-minute, acoustic-guitar only lullaby. That's basically what the Ohio State and Michigan administrations do to us. They Rewrite Stairway to Heaven as a lullaby every single year.

The argument for playing the biggest game of each team's regular season, in the worst possible time slot, is thin. Those shouting, "It's tradition," overestimate just how traditional their precious noon kickoff is, according to research previously conducted by Eleven Warriors.

Looking back at the matchups, Ohio State and Michigan didn't start regularly kicking off at noon until the mid '80s.

Chart of Ohio State–Michigan football game start times through the years.

I'm older than this tradition, and I offer about as much history as the Ohio State - Michigan noon kickoff. In high school, I owned multiple Creed AND Nickleback albums. The argument I'm making here is my history sucks, but comparatively, it's on par with what you're getting when the Buckeyes and Wolverines kickoff while most of the west coast hasn't finished breakfast.

This isn't a new argument. The Ohio State - Michigan kickoff time is a popular topic, and when the teams were battling for a playoff spot in 2016, there were some hoping the game would be pushed back into a later (better) time slot.

Tradition won.

"I think that the tradition and having it at noon, I think fans like that and I know we like that and can count on that."

That was Martin Jarmond in an interview with Ari Wasserman. Then the deputy director of athletics at Ohio State, Jarmond argued the game shouldn't move from noon because "that's what people have come to expect."

Sure, it's what we've come to expect... but is it what we deserve?

Giving Ohio State and Michigan the nooner treatment feels so inherently anti-climatic. By nature, the Buckeyes - Wolverines matchup is a crescendo, with the preceding 11 games serving as a tantalizing buildup.

Imagine if Led Zeppelin wrote Stairway to Heaven as a three-minute, acoustic-guitar only lullaby. That's basically what the Ohio State and Michigan administrations do to us. They rewrite Stairway to Heaven as a lullaby every single year.

The 2006 game between the Buckeyes and Wolverines was so immaculately perfect. It was No. 1 vs. No. 2, and it finished under the lights thanks to a 3:30 kickoff. That game kicked so much ass because the networks fought to put the best rivalry in college football on the stage it deserved. 

It's time for Ohio State and Michigan to regularly face each other in prime time.

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