However, Clemson does have full and 100% authority to set game times for games that are not picked up by television. Now, granted, this does not happen too many times during the season. Most Clemson football games are picked up by television, and that is a good thing for both Clemson and the Atlantic Coast Conference. But, this year, there are two games that no television has offered to carry that Clemson has set for 1:00 in the afternoon. Those two games are Central Florida on September 1st and Wofford on September 8th.
What in the world is the Clemson Athletic Department thinking?
Last year, Clemson scheduled its first game of the season versus The Citadel at 6:00 in the afternoon. Over 78,000 fans showed up to watch a hapless Division I-AA school get its brain beat out by the Tigers 38-0. Game time temperature was in the low 90's, but it almost felt refreshing compared to the 97 degree high from earlier in the day. All seemed well in the world...until the complaints came in.
Seems Clemson received several hundred complaints from fans that did not like the late starting time because they got home at such a late hour. Seems some fans complained that going to a Clemson game at night makes for too long of a day. Seems some fans don't see as well at night as they do during the day and they fear driving. Seems…well it seems to me like the majority of us are getting the shaft.
Heat, Heat, Heat
I am not a meteorologist, and thank the good Lord for that. But, as an amateur meteorologist, I have discovered that early September afternoons are hot as you know what. For goodness sakes, it is still officially summer during this time. The only things that you can do outside on a summer afternoon in South Carolina is jump in a pool or sit in the shade with a fan blowing on you. Neither of which are applicable to a Clemson football game. So why in the world would someone want to deliberately schedule a football game in this searing heat?
Driving Time To Clemson
Yes, if you live in the lower part of the state, it is a long haul to Death Valley. Some fans travel upwards of 4 and 5 hours to see their beloved Tigers play. A game that starts at 6:00 and ends at 10:00 p.m. puts these fine folks home as late as 3:00 a.m.
A neat invention has been made in the 20th century that alleviates long drives. It's called hotel rooms. If driving until 3:00 a.m. is tough on you (and it would be on me), then please stop in Greenville or Columbia and stay the night. Motel 6 will even leave the light on for ya. Why must we have to revolve game times around your estimated time of arrival back home? And what about those Clemson fans in Virginia? Should we have kickoff at 8:30 a.m. so those folks can get back home before midnight? Surely not.
Catering To The Vocal Minority?
I'm looking at a map of South Carolina, North Carolina, and Georgia. It seems to me that 75% of people that come to Clemson games are within 3 hours driving distance of Death Valley. And that is factoring in the pitiful SC Highway Patrol who seem to make getting out of Clemson harder with their assistance than it would be without it. So, by simple math, during a 6:00 game that ends at 10:00, most Clemson fans would be in their own bed by 1:00 a.m. What is so bad about that? And if your drive is longer…I got news for you. You are the MINORITY. We should not have to revolve our worlds around YOU. Two words…Motel 6.
Heat vs. Less Heat
Let's be honest. September is brutal for its heat, no matter the time. But, it does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that later in the day is cooler than mid day. Would you rather sit in comfort during a dusk game and return home at a late hour, or get a 3rd degree burn at a 1:00 kickoff and be home by 7:00? Who enjoys watching a Clemson game in 98 degree heat? I bet the people complaining about late kickoff times are the same people that stay inside Death Valley for the first half and then leave.
The Bottom Line
I know you are out there. You people who complained about the late starting times at Clemson games. I know you fester vocally within the comfy confines of IPTAY. I know your agenda is to make sure Clemson games start at 1:00 so you can get home and be in your bed by 9:00 p.m. And it makes me sick.
I'll tell you what. USC fans are much smarter than Clemson fans. Why? Because they have enough sense to schedule night games in September at Williams Brice when they have the chance. And, I'll tell you another thing. I would rather sit in the comfort of an 85 degree summer night in Columbia watching the Gamecocks than I would suffer a 3rd degree burn watching Clemson whip Wofford. Well, maybe not...but you get my point. Not to mention that most games picked up by television are either 12:00 or 3:30 kickoff times. Is it too much to ask that we could have one measly night football game a year at Clemson?
Clemson…quit pandering to the vocal minority that live 5 hours from Clemson and start scheduling night games in September. Quit pandering to the folks who fear driving after the sun goes down. Quit pandering, period. Start thinking with your head, and not with that phone that rings on Monday mornings after a Clemson night game.
It is the humane thing to do. It is the right thing to do.
And, by the way, Happy Easter!
You can reach Scott Rhymer at firstname.lastname@example.org.