Auburn HC Gus Malzahn Shades Nick Saban, Alabama over Noon Kickoff Criticism

Tyler Conway@jtylerconwayFeatured ColumnistSeptember 10, 2019

AUBURN, AL - SEPTEMBER 7: Head coach Gus Malzahn of the Auburn Tigers questions a call during the second quarter of their game against the Tulane Green Wave at Jordan-Hare Stadium on September 7, 2019 in Auburn, Alabama. (Photo by Michael Chang/Getty Images)
Michael Chang/Getty Images

Auburn coach Gus Malzahn seemingly shaded Alabama over the school's displeasure with noon kickoff times in his press conference Tuesday.

"Our guys are excited to be back home for our second home game, playing a very solid Kent State team, 6 p.m. kick," Malzahn told reporters. "Personally, I wish it was at noon. We'd have more time to prepare for our next opponent."

Saban and Alabama officials complained Monday about the noon (11 a.m. local time) start for the Crimson Tide's game against Southern Miss on Sept. 21. 

"We are disappointed that our game against Southern Miss has been scheduled for a daytime kickoff at home," president Stuart Bell and athletics director Greg Byrne said in a statement. "We realize we've played more nonconference 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."

Saban previously expressed his frustration with fans leaving early during the Tide's 62-10 win over New Mexico State last week. He cited the fact that some fans were likely leaving because of the heat.

"I know it was a difficult day for our fans because of the circumstances surrounding the weather and I'd like to thank the fans for supporting the team and a lot of people hanging in there to try to support the team," Saban said Monday. "I think the players really appreciate it. We know it was a difficult circumstance for a lot of folks, and hopefully our administration will continue to work to try to play some of these games at a different time."

The heat index in Tuscaloosa was over 100 degrees during the romp. Alabama has played six 11 a.m. kickoffs since the SEC Network began broadcasting the early games, though most have come against lesser opponents.

Saban balked at criticism of Alabama's nonconference schedule during his press conference as well, saying the Tide play schools that are willing to play them. He has long preferred that Power Five teams play all 12 of their games against Power Five schools.

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