Stanford football fans are going to need their coffee and mimosas ready for the 2021 season opener. The Sept. 4 game against Kansas State in Arlington, Texas kicks off at 12 p.m. ET, 9 PT. One person who is not a fan of that one bit: head coach David Shaw.
It isn’t the only Pac-12 non-conference matchup being relegated to the early morning hours out West. Oregon at Ohio State, perhaps the biggest game for the league this season, will be played at the same time a week later, on Sept. 11.
“I am pissed at Fox for our kickoff time against Kansas State,” Shaw told Stewart Mandel of The Athletic. “For Stanford in particular and Oregon to be going and playing in a different time zone, and give us an early kickoff, to me, is incredibly disrespectful. And it shows a lack of understanding of what we have to do, and the way that time difference truly affects us. It shows a lack of care for our student athletes.”
It was a rare, direct shot at a major television partner from someone as high-up in the college sports landscape as Shaw. This has been a common issue for FOX broadcast partners, including those in the Pac-12 and Big 12, specifically, with the advent of the network’s “Big Noon Kickoff” slot.
You don't often hear a high-profile coach rip a TV partner, but Stanford's David Shaw is "pissed at FOX" for a 9 a.m. body clock kickoff Week 1 vs. K-State.
“That, to me, is something that is egregious, and I don’t care who I piss off."https://t.co/qfs9NGuzIJ
— Stewart Mandel (@slmandel) June 4, 2021
“They can say whatever they want to say. I don’t want to hear sh*t about, ‘Oh, it’s great ratings.’ I don’t care about the ratings,” Shaw continued. “… This is either complete disregard, or lack of understanding how difficult it is to be a West Coast team that travels east and gets forced to play an early kickoff game.”
Shaw cited games at Northwestern and Wake Forest, programs that Stanford is usually better than, where the team never found its footing during an early time slot game a few time zones East. The 2015 Northwestern loss, a 16-6 snoozer, was especially notable, as the Christian McCaffrey-led squad finished 12-2, drubbing Iowa in the Rose Bowl 45-16.
“I’m not happy with Fox, and I don’t care that they’re not going to be happy with my comments,” said Shaw. “We have to start sticking up for ourselves as West Coast teams, because we’re going to get judged the same, but we’re going to be playing against guys that get to sleep in their own beds, sleep in their own time zone and wake up at 8:30 in the morning, while our guys are getting up at 6:30 in the morning and losing those two hours of sleep.”
Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione has had similar complaints. As FOX pushes Big Noon Kickoff, the Sooners are one of the biggest draws available to the network, so they’ve played plenty of those games, which are 11 a.m. kickoffs in central time.
We’ll see if David Shaw’s words have any impact. The Pac-12 can certainly use all of the help it can get, as the entire league has struggled to make a real dent on the national college football scene.