Early wake-up calls, breakfast tailgates and chilly mornings are just a few of the traditions that come with noon football games. And Ohio State fans have seen many in their days.
“Once upon a time, all of Ohio State’s games were played at 1 p.m.,” Jerry Emig, Ohio State associate athletics director, said in an email. “Times have certainly changed.”
For the past four football seasons, half of Ohio State’s home games and all of Michigan’s have been at noon.
Since 1980, the Ohio State-Michigan kickoff has taken place between noon and 12:45 p.m. 33 times, and at 1 p.m. or later six times –– four after 2000.
The decision behind many of Ohio State’s game times are made by FOX Sports, which acquired the Big Ten Conference primary football rights in 2017, Emig said.
“They’ll cover seven of our 12 regular-season games,” Emig said. “And this year, the network introduced a noon game for their biggest game of the week.”
The most notable deviation from noon for Ohio State-Michigan was in 2006, which fans now dub as “The Game of the Century,” when No. 1 Ohio State played No. 2 Michigan at 3:30 p.m.
Since then, the Ohio State-Michigan game has been scheduled for noon.
Jake Footer, a fourth-year in finance, said keeping the Ohio State-Michigan game at noon is a disadvantage.
“To place big games at noon takes away from some of the excitement of the game,” Footer said. “There is a reason that the big games are supposed to be at prime time — because all eyes are going to be watching.”
Footer, who said he has attended every home game in his four years and watches every away game, describes prime time as a time when there are no other big games.
While noon may be a burden for some football fanatics, other Buckeye fans’ experiences remain mostly unchanged.
Hayleigh Coppenger, a fourth-year in city and regional planning, said she typically enjoys noon games and even likens them to Christmas morning.
“When it’s noon, it’s the first thing you do in your day, so you’re not feeling lazy about yourself because the game is at 3:30 [p.m.],” Coppenger said.
Coppenger said the earliest she’s woken up for a noon game is 4:30 a.m. for this past year’s Michigan matchup.
In the continual debate around tradition and ratings surrounding kickoff, it appears that tradition comes first.
Whether watching the game as a die-hard Buckeye fan, a general sports junkie or a social tailgater, go ahead and mark your calendars for the next few years because the noon timing for the two rivals doesn’t appear to be going anywhere.