It’s every Hokie football fan's mortal enemy: the noon kickoff.
Yet thanks to the football team’s lackluster 2012 season and an uninspiring ACC schedule, the Hokies have faced three noon starts and a 1:30 p.m. kickoff so far, with another scheduled for Saturday against Pittsburgh.
But while it’s easy to take shots at athletic director Jim Weaver and the rest of the athletics department for the unpleasant schedule, the anger about the kickoffs is likely misguided.
There’s no doubt that early start times are unpleasant.
There’s only so much time to tailgate after all, and the midday sun is truly brutal, as the Western Carolina and North Carolina games demonstrated.
While Weaver deserves plenty of hate mail for turning down Thursday night games - a mistake he is already trying to correct by requesting two for 2014 - his hands are tied when it comes to the early kickoffs.
Instead, the start times are tied to the performance of the team and college football’s landscape.
When the ACC signed a lucrative television deal with ESPN and ABC, the schools in the conference lost almost all control over when their games actually start.
The only kickoff Weaver could actually control was Tech’s home opener against Western Carolina, which he slated for 1:30 p.m. It may not be perfect, but it’s better than noon.
It may produce some unfavorable outcomes, but it’s ESPN and ABC that actually control the start times.
The big networks only have three appealing time slots to offer: 3:30 p.m., 5:30 p.m. or 8 p.m.
Those are fiercely contested by top tier ACC schools, like Florida State and Clemson this season, as well as major Big 10 and SEC programs.
The only games from the ACC that stand a chance at scoring those premier slots are the Florida State-Clemson game on Oct. 19 and the Miami-Florida State matchup on Nov. 2.
Even last weekend’s Maryland-FSU contest, which was hyped as a major ACC Atlantic clash before it turned into a huge blowout, only warranted a noon kickoff.
For Tech to break into a later time slot against that kind of stiff competition, the Hokies’ don’t have a lot of options left.
The only two remaining home games after the Pittsburgh matchup are against Duke and Maryland, which hardly present the most compelling storylines.
If the Terrapins can recover from the 63-0 beat down they suffered at the hands of the Seminoles, there’s a chance that game could get pushed to 3:30 p.m.