The Kinder Garden - 8/2/03

The starting times of WVU's home games routinely spark a debate among fans.

Every year around this time, West Virginia University announces the starting times for home football games. And, in accordance with Newton's Third Law, and equal and opposite reaction is heard from fans.

The reaction, in this case, is that the start times never make everyone happy. Noon games don't allow for much pregame tailgating, and also are detrimental to student attendance. One p.m. starts are a bit better, but still share some of the same problems.

Evening games, while usually resulting better student attendance, provide problems for fans who make lengthy one day trips for games. Even a 5:00 p.m. start can keep many fans from arriving home before 11:00 or midnight. Throw a game back to 7:00 p.m., and the problem worsens.

Night games, of course, cost more money to stage. Among other items, the stadium lights are on longer, and security personnel and other contracted services are on duty longer. Those costs might sound inconsequential, but they do come into play.

The challenges to making start times don't end there, however. Television, of course, comes into play with a heavy hand. For example, this year's Cincinnati game was being considered for a late afternoon start, but apparently ESPN Regional television is still considering that game for broadcast. And since games on ESPN regional are syndicated to various stations across various networks, there's no way to clear broadcast times for a 5:00 or 6:00 p.m. game. Therefore, that game has to remain an early start to keep it "selectable" by TV powers.

The timing of games also has an impact. Were WVU's games with Central Florida and Templenot in November, they might have been good candidates for late afternoon starts. However, the threat of bad weather late in the season (anyone remember the drive home from Pittsubrgh last year?) could be a potential crowd killer.

All this is not to say that I'm in favor of all early starts. I'm not. I love the atmosphere of evening and night games, and I think that the WVU administration should make every effort to get at least one home Saturday game on the schedule every year. It simply appears that the layout of the schedule and television considerations have combined to make that an impossibility this season.

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NEWS ITEM: Standout high school defensive tackle Nate Robinson has announced that he will attend Rutgers University after being denied admission to the University of Miami. Robinson had a 3.0 GPA and an 800 SAT score, which was 20 points shy of Miami's requirement.

Athletic Director Paul Dee said "We have standards that are different from the standards that have been established by the NCAA."

Boy, that's the understatement of the year. Apparently those Miami standards don't extend to ethical dealings with fellow institutions of higher learning. Wonder if Miami has a situational ethics class?

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A great deal has been written in the past couple of days about tweaks and changes to the Mountaineer football offense. The bet here is that many of those changes won't be noticeable.

While there will probably be a few formation changes (the prospect of a two back set with Quincy Wilson and Kevin Harris or Jason Colson is tantalizing) there will likely be more changes that aren't apparent. Things like changes in reads in running and passing plays or tweaks to blocking assignments won't show up without detailed study. With the offense getting more comfortable with the overall scheme, it wouldn't be very productive to throw massive changes at that unit.

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