UNC fans have no excuse on 'Zero Dark Thursday'
Posted October 16, 2013
Updated October 17, 2013
Turn on the lights!! North Carolina will host Miami Thursday night at 7:45 p.m. (ESPN).
The nighttime starting time snaps four straight weeks of noon or 12:30 p.m. starts for the Tar Heels. Two of those games have been on the road, and two have been at Kenan Stadium.
There has been a lot of chirping out of Chapel Hill about the distaste for playing games at noon or 12:30. Historically, these games have been poorly attended by Tar Heel fans. I vividly remember Nov. 22, 1997 when a 9-1 Tar Heel team jogged out of the tunnel on Senior Day to play Duke.
The look of amazement on Coach Mack Brown’s face said it all. He was stunned to see so many empty seats. Brown left after the season to take the job at Texas.
This past Saturday, Brown and the Longhorns beat Oklahoma in Dallas. The game started at 11 a.m. Central Time, but folks didn’t mind getting up early to be in the stands for that game.
This Saturday, there will be several top-25 teams playing at noon or before. South Carolina visits Tennessee at noon, Florida is at Missouri at 12:21 p.m., Georgia visits Vanderbilt at noon, Texas Tech and West Virginia is a nooner and TCU is at Oklahoma State in a game that will begin at 11 a.m. locally in Stillwater.
I will venture a guess that these games will be well attended. Fans show up to see a good product.
If you want a gauge of how your football team or program is perceived, take a gander at the TV listings on Saturday. The prime location is 7 or 8 p.m. on ESPN or ABC. ESPN also likes to put attractive ACC games on at noon.
After ESPN sifts through the schedule, the ACC Network gets to pick the game for 12:30 p.m. Then Fox Sports Regional takes over in the selection process. The rest of the games are left for computer-based ESPN3 or the dinosaur days of no TV at all.
If schools don’t like playing games at noon or 12:30, something can be done by your team. Play better, win more games and get ranked.
Right now, North Carolina, NC State and Duke aren’t appealing enough to play on TV Saturday night or in the ESPN 3:30 p.m. time slot. So that leaves them as prime targets for 3:30 p.m. regional or 12:30 p.m. ACC Network selections.
The Miami-North Carolina game was on the Thursday night schedule long before the Hurricanes were ranked 10th in the country and the Tar Heels were 1-4.
Regardless of its record, Carolina gets to showcase the program on national TV in their home setting. It’s not a noon game, so there is no excuse for fans not to show up for “Zero Dark Thursday.”