Clemson Football: Fans react to noon kickoff between Tigers and Bulldogs

Initial reactions to the announcement that the anticipated matchup between Clemson and Georgia would be a noon game were mostly negative, but the decision makes more sense as we consider the circumstances.
Nov 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney
Nov 11, 2023; Clemson, South Carolina, USA; Clemson Tigers head coach Dabo Swinney / Ken Ruinard-USA TODAY Sports

Summer is just getting started, so it seems like the college football season is still far away. It felt a little closer on Tuesday with the announcement that the Week 1 showdown between Clemson Football and the Georgia Bulldogs has a start time set.

The Tigers and the Bulldogs will start the first big Saturday of the season with a 12:00 PM kickoff at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Georgia.

While this has increased the excitement level for fans who are ready for a new college football season, it has created some negative and/or confused reactions on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Many fans, myself included, assumed this game would be a prime-time matchup. Traditionally, the noon matchup isn’t considered the best time slot, with a handful of exceptions.

At first glance, a noon matchup seemed like a slight to the perceived importance of the game.

Additionally, it seemed an even bigger slight when we realized which game would be the primetime matchup on ABC.

Once we take a step back, there are some variables to consider why the schedule is what it is.

ESPN often coordinates its primetime game with the location of College GameDay. They have selected Notre Dame at Texas A&M as their host location for the first primary episode of GameDay.

While this also might seem like a slight to Clemson vs Georgia, it isn’t. People often confuse the importance of a game or program with the marketability of a game or program. Despite performance on the field, Notre Dame is still the biggest draw in the nation based on name alone.

Despite performance on the field and a generally bad reputation from the spectacle the Jimbo Fisher era turned out to be (not to mention all the cringy clips of the Midnight Yell leaders), Texas A&M has one of the most rabid fanbases in the nation. They have purged the Fisher elements and have Mike Elko as their new coach. While the Aggies probably won’t contend for much in Year 1 under Elko, the opening home game against the Fighting Irish will be electric.

We also need to consider that the noon window isn’t a bad slot. It just happens to be where a lot of the low-card contests are scheduled. Clemson vs Georgia is the feature game of the noon window, which is a very important spot for the networks these days.

FOX has gone out of their way to put their best game in the noon window. They named their pregame show “FOX Big Noon Kickoff” and used it to lead into their best game of the day.

When you review the options for FOX in Week 1, they can either put one of their best programs vs a cupcake at noon (Fresno State vs Michigan or Akron vs Ohio State), or they can put the best matchup of the day for which they have the rights. Right now, that appears to be Penn State at West Virginia.

While that is a decent game and a matchup between old-school rivals that don’t get to play very often, Clemson vs Georgia is a better game between old-school rivals that don’t get to play very often. ESPN might not have a great shot of winning the noon window against the biggest game FOX can program in most weeks, but they can win it in Week 1, and they have chosen to do that.