Earlier kickoff times have become a staple in college football lately, and Stanford head coach David Shaw isn’t happy.
As part of their contract with Fox Sports, numerous Pac-12 teams will play road games in the early afternoon. Although that doesn’t sound bad, remember that a noon kickoff on the East Coast is, in essence, a 9 a.m. kickoff for someone who is used to the West Coast and Pacific Standard Time. One can understand, then, why Shaw has a bone to pick with Fox.
David Shaw is very upset with Fox Sports over kickoff times
David Shaw is far from pleased with the Pac-12’s TV schedule, and he isn’t holding back.
In a recent interview with The Athletic, Shaw ripped Fox Sports for having multiple kickoffs that, for teams on the West Coast, are essentially morning starts. Oregon, for example, plays Ohio State at noon on Saturday, September 11. Because the Ducks are traveling to Columbus, Ohio, ther players are really playing at 10 a.m.
Shaw, who will deal with a two-hour time zone difference on September 4 against Kansas State at AT&T Stadium in Texas, feels quite strongly about this strategy.
“For Stanford in particular and Oregon to be going and playing in a different time zone, and give us an early kickoff, to me, is incredibly disrespectful. And it shows a lack of understanding of what we have to do and the way that time difference truly affects us. It shows a lack of care for our student-athletes. That, to me, is something that is egregious, and I don’t care who I piss off, but I think they’re wrong. A lot of our people in our conference are upset too.”
Shaw, Stanford’s head coach since 2011, accused Fox of not caring about West Coast teams.
“This is either complete disregard or lack of understanding how difficult it is to be a West Coast team that travels east and gets forced to play an early kickoff game,” Shaw said.
Put kindly, Shaw bit the hands that fed him when he publicly blasted Fox Sports and early kickoffs.
All of Shaw’s points about the time difference are valid, and that isn’t the issue. However, networks like Fox and ESPN pay the leagues so much in TV contracts that these early kickoffs — or in some situations, late kickoffs — are an accepted part of the deal.
Look at Thursday Night Football in the NFL. According to CNBC, Amazon is expected to pay roughly $1 billion per year for the Thursday Night package. Which matters more to the NFL? Players speaking out against playing two games in five days, or that $1 billion per year?
Speaking of money, USA Today reported Shaw made $4.81 million in total salary during the 2020 season. That ranked 18th among FBS head coaches, and it’s still well below Nick Saban, who led the pack at $9.3 million. All of those coaches can thank those TV deals for providing the schools more money.
Shaw and Stanford are hoping to build off a productive 2020 season
Early kickoff times and all, Shaw and the Stanford Cardinal will open their 2021 season on September 4 against Kansas State.
Stanford went 4-2 amid the coronavirus pandemic last year and rebounded from a 4-8 showing in 2019. Although quarterback Davis Mills is now on the Houston Texans, the Cardinal is slated to bring numerous talented players.
Jack West and Tanner McKee will likely compete for the starting quarterback role. 247 Sports ranked McKee as a 4-star prospect in the 2018 signing class. West completed 13 of 19 passes for 154 yards last year.
Brycen Tremayne, a veteran receiver, averaged 18.9 yards per catch in 2020 and is expected to have a more prominent role this year. Elsewhere on offense, Austin Jones rushed for 550 yards and nine touchdowns as a sophomore last season. Defensive end Thomas Booker had 8.5 sacks and 15.5 tackles for loss in his first three seasons.
Football fans will get to see those players, and so many more, when Stanford enjoys an early kickoff on September 4. Only time will tell if Shaw blames any poor performances that day on Fox Sports and the TV contract.