The Powers That Be Are Slotting Ohio State's Most Important Games at Noon for the Sake of Ratings, and It Has to Stop

By David Regimbal on November 7, 2019 at 10:10 am
Ryan Day
© Joe Maiorana-USA TODAY Sports

Noon games are bad.

They're bad for students who blew off a little too much steam on Friday night. They make that Saturday morning alarm clock more unwelcome than... well, noon games.

They're bad for us olds trying to squeeze in some errands before the game, or even better, a precious round of golf as the whispers of winter approach.

They're bad for tailgaters who are forced to wake up before the rooster in order to prep for the day's festivities, which will inevitably be cut short because of a criminally bad deadline. In the same light, they're bad for any non-local ticket holder with any legitimate driving to do that morning.

They're bad for any Ohio State fan unfortunate enough to live west of Texas. They have to take the first quarter in while finishing breakfast.

But most importantly, they're bad because they diminish the host team's home-field advantage. And that's why I hate Fox's recent power move into the noon time slot so much.

In preparation of the 2019 season, Fox made a big push to improve its college football presence. The network hired former Ohio State coach Urban Meyer to join host Rob Stone and fellow panelists Reggie Bush, Matt Leinart and Brady Quinn for the Big Noon Kickoff — a fantastic pregame show that has been an unquestioned hit. 

Fox also wanted to close the gap between ESPN and CBS in the game-time ratings race. The world-wide leader has a stranglehold on the primetime slot (7:30 - 8:00 games) while CBS historically features marquee SEC games at 3:30.

That left Fox with the noon slate, and the network went all in to put the most high-profile games it had contractual rights to in the worst possible slot. And of course, the crown jewel of Fox's broadcast candidates is Ohio State.

Because of that, the Buckeyes' most important home games of the season have been slotted for noon. That is dumb and bad.

In truth, the noon treatment is fine — not preferable, but fine — for the likes of FAU or Rutgers. Ohio State barely has to wake up to secure a win in games like these, so the same can apply to the fans wanting to watch it unfold.

But slotting the Buckeyes' matchups against big-time opponents like Wisconsin and playoff contender Penn State at noon inherently diminishes Ohio State's home-field advantage.

As someone who's attended a fair share of both noon games and primetime showdowns, there's a drastic difference in the electricity and energy in the stadium when the game kicks off under a gloomy grey sky as opposed to under the lights. Visiting quarterbacks have echoed that sentiment as well.

"Ohio State, man, Ohio State was the loudest place I’ve ever played. Man, that was the toughest place I’ve ever played."

Those are the words of former Texas quarterback Vince Young, who spent three-and-a-half hours inside the ropes and under the lights at Ohio Stadium in 2005. He and his Longhorns — widely considered one of the most dominant teams in college football history — barely came away with a win as the raucous environment fueled the Buckeyes that night.

Fox knows what it's doing. Dominating the noon slot has been a ratings dream for the network, and it has no interest sacrificing that for the sake of any advantage Ohio State gains playing at home in primetime.

But if you're Ohio State or any of it's well-reasoned fans // fires judging look at you weirdos who actually like noon games // you don't care about ratings or the profit they generate for the network broadcasting the game.

What you care about is your football team and watching it play via the best experience possible. The best experience in Ohio Stadium takes place when the sun sets and the lights come on.

Fox needs to acknowledge that and put these marquee games on the stage they deserve. 

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