Forde-Yard Dash: Does Alabama have legitimate gripe about early kickoff times?

Forty names, games, teams and minutiae making news in college football, where victory vigils are being held in Westwood for the last winless Power Five team:

[More Dash: Conference rankings | Appraising unbeatens | Prove-it games]

FOURTH QUARTER

CRABBINESS OVER KICKOFF TIMES — IT JUST MEANS MORE

James Carville (31) isn’t going to like this. The LSU superfan, who last year made a very public stink about SEC officiating that he alleged to be pro-Alabama and anti-LSU, is going to have to reconcile that conspiracy theory with a different issue where the league office seems to favor the Bayou Bengals.

Kickoff times.

When the SEC announced that Alabama’s home game against Southern Mississippi this Saturday would start at 11 a.m. local time, the Crimson Tide brass was displeased. No teams love playing the early game because the fans (especially students) tend to be late arriving and/or lacking enthusiasm. That’s especially true in the South in September, when the heat can be an added disincentive to either show up or being boisterous.

Thus there were statements expressing “disappointment” from school president Stuart Bell and athletic director Greg Byrne, noting that Alabama has played the most non-conference day games of any team in the SEC since 2014. That drew a fair amount of mockery from points outside of Tuscaloosa, and it even prompted the rare cheeky line from Auburn coach Gus Malzahn (32).

"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 said, before delivering the zinger. "Personally, I wish it was at noon. We'd have more time to prepare for our next opponent."

But Alabama has a point, specifically in relation to rival LSU. That program generates much of its identity from night games in Tiger Stadium, which are perhaps the wildest environment in college football. And while LSU night games are definitely a great thing, they also seem to happen with disproportionate frequency.

Alabama's Nick Saban and LSU's Ed Orgeron converse after a college football game between their schools. (Getty)

Over the past six-plus seasons, this is your breakdown of kickoff times for Alabama and LSU for regular-season games:

Before 6 p.m. local time: Alabama 44 games, LSU 17.

Noon or 11 a.m. starts: Alabama nine games, LSU four. (Four of Alabama’s 11 a.m. starts have come in the last 15 games. LSU, which also has an 11 a.m. kickoff this week, hadn’t had one previously since 2017.)

After 6 p.m.: Alabama 28 games, LSU 55.

That’s a disparity.

Kickoff times are largely dictated by TV networks, and TV absolutely loves an amped Tiger Stadium night atmosphere. But you would think the SEC could have some sway with its good corporate partners if they thought kickoff times were skewed in favor of any one team. Maybe the league has more important things to worry about, or maybe they don’t view night games as inherently advantageous or better. (Some fans, especially older ones, might argue that night games are more difficult to attend than day games.)

Whichever side you’re on, it’s good to know that SEC schools can always find something to complain about.

VIOLENCE AGAINST MARCHING BANDS — IS IT SPREADING?

You might recall that in the aftermath of that dreadful Week Zero game between Florida and Miami, some angry Hurricanes fans allegedly assaulted the director of the Gators’ marching band (33) — an event so traumatic that merely witnessing it led to a bloody nose for a band member.

Well, apparently no band is safe in a rivalry situation.

Iowa athletic director Gary Barta (34) issued a completely vague statement Monday afternoon alluding to “inappropriate actions made toward student members and staff of the Hawkeye Marching Band while attending the Iowa State football game Sept. 14.” Iowa said it is in contact with Iowa State and working to gather the proverbial “additional information” from whatever transpired. Perhaps they will share that information with the public in a more concrete fashion once it is gathered.

Bands are pretty easy targets for angry fans — they’re dressed comically and, generally speaking, not the most physically intimidating group. But please, college football fans, don’t take out your frustrations on the opposing school’s mellophone player. They have families, too.

IT’S TIME FOR A NEW COACHING STAFF POSITION IN COLLEGE FOOTBALL

Given the proliferation of “analysts” on football staffs amid the mushrooming bureaucracy of the sport, The Dash has a simple suggestion that would help make the multimillionaire head coaches look slightly smarter when they flail through late-game decision making: a quality control analyst in charge of math and general common sense.

Not advanced math and esoteric analytics. Simple math. Like, the kind of math that could be shouted into the headset of, say, Pittsburgh coach Pat Narduzzi (35) when he tries to kick a field goal from the 1-yard line down seven to Penn State with less than five minutes to play. Simple message: “Coach, we need a field goal right now like we need a water buffalo on the sideline. We are a yard away from tying this sucker. Go for it.”

Another math application: counting the number of players wearing your team’s uniform who are on the field on every play. That’s something that could have come in handy for, say, Mark Dantonio (36) when his Michigan State team lined up to go for the tying field goal against Arizona State with 12 men on the field. (Dantonio may be hard of hearing, though; he didn’t seem to hear any of the voices imploring him to fire some of his antiquated offensive staff last winter.)

Michigan Wolverines head coach Jim Harbaugh might benefit from an extra coach on the sidelines. (USAT)

Jim Harbaugh (37) could perhaps have used a voice in the headset Sept. 7 to coolly inform him that his team was tied in the fourth quarter against Army, and a field goal could win the game, instead of going for it on fourth-and-2 and failing. Or, later, that a punt was the smarter play than another fourth-down gambit that also failed and nearly got Michigan beaten.

One more staff member, coaches. Make the hire, and think of all the in-game decisions you no longer have to mismanage.

COACH WHO EARNED HIS COMP CAR THIS WEEK

Chris Klieman (38), Kansas State. He’s the new monarch of Manhattan, tasked with replacing a legend but immediately upgrading the product. The former North Dakota State coach is off to a 3-0 start as the successor to Bill Snyder, highlighted by the big road win over Mississippi State on Saturday. Within that two-year intersectional series, the turnaround under Klieman is clear: The Wildcats went from losing by 21 at home to Mississippi State last year to winning by seven on the road. It’s unlikely that Klieman wins over the long haul the way Snyder did at what previously was a dead-end program, but he’s off to a tremendous start.

COACH WHO SHOULD TAKE THE BUS TO WORK

Steve Addazio (39), Boston College. Congrats, Mr. Guys Being Dudes. Your team not only served up Kansas’ first road win over a Power Five opponent since 2008, it got trucked by the mighty Jayhawks. This was an unimaginable result that reminds Boston College fans that Addazio is the definition of mediocre in his seventh season on the job: 40-39 overall, 19-30 in ACC play. And this is Year 3 with the starting quarterback-running back tandem of Anthony Brown and A.J. Dillon.

POINT AFTER

When thirsty in the excellent college town of Bloomington, Indiana, The Dash recommends grabbing a stool at The Tap (40) downtown on the square. The TVs are plentiful for watching games, and the beer selection is comprehensive. Try a Bionic Dragon IPA and thank The Dash later.

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