Alabama President Stuart Bell Says He's 'Disappointed' with Early Kickoff Time

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistSeptember 9, 2019

University of Alabama president Stuart R. Bell, left, and Alabama athletic director Greg Byrne listen as Nate Oats speaks after being introduced as the new college basketball coach for the University of Alabama, Thursday, March 28, 2019, in Tuscaloosa, Ala. (AP Photo/Vasha Hunt)
Vasha Hunt/Associated Press

Alabama will kick off its Sept. 21 game against Southern Mississippi at 11 a.m. CT, a time that drew criticism from school president Stuart Bell and athletic director Greg Byrne.

Bell and Byrne released a joint statement about their displeasure with the decision, per AL.com's Michael Casagrande:

"We are disappointed that our game against Southern Miss has been selected as a daytime kickoff at home. We realize we've played more non-conference day games at home in September than any other SEC team since 2014. There have been a number of conversations with our conference office, and they also recognize the challenges these kick times present for our student-athletes and fans."

The Tide played their home opener against New Mexico State at 3 p.m. Saturday. They will visit South Carolina at 2:30 p.m. this Saturday.

The Athletic's Nicole Auerbach framed Bell and Byrne's comments against what she said was a frequent refrain she had heard from fans:

Auerbach wrote in July about how some Power Five programs were looking for ways to stave off declining attendances. The average attendance in the SEC (73,994) fell by 1.4 percent in 2018, with Auerbach noting it was the conference's lowest figure since 2004.

Conference commissioners also have to worry about television ratings, though, a problem that is particularly acute in the Pac-12 given the three-hour time difference from the West Coast to the East Coast.

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said in July he was entertaining the idea of having a game kick off at 9 a.m. PT so it would have a better opportunity to capture the attention of fans across the country. The Pac-12 tabled the idea for the time being.

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