To the surprise of many fans, Texas Tech released the kickoff times for five games in the 2016 football season, and to a bigger surprise, all of the kickoff times announced are night games. The home and season opener against Stephen F. Austin is scheduled for a 7 PM kickoff time. The Arizona State game is scheduled for a 9:00 PM Central time kickoff, our game against Louisiana Tech is scheduled at 6:00 PM, our Thursday night contest with Kansas at 7:30 PM, and the Baylor game is scheduled for a 5:00 PM kickoff. The 2015 season was a rough one for many reasons, but one huge reason were the terrible kickoff times for home games. It's hard for anyone to truly enjoy a tailgate when the game is slated for an 11:00 AM kickoff, or one in the middle of the day. I can recall the home opener season last season where temperatures were high enough to clear out a student section by halftime. The line to water fountains were equivalent to the lines to enter the game, but the worst part was the limited supply of water sold at the stadium that sold out well before the end of the game. You can imagine the excitement following the announcement of the game-times for this season.
I want to applaud whoever scheduled the season and home opener for a 7 PM kickoff. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and after months of anticipation the Jones will be roaring as soon as 7 PM rolls around. Later kickoff times are a benefit for everyone. It allows alumni, if they can't grab that Friday off from work, to drive up to Lubbock early Saturday morning and still have some time to spare for Tailgating. For students and fans already settled in Lubbock, it's an opportunity to set up tailgates with patience. Nobody will be rushed to set up and tear down in the blink of an eye. It allows everyone to sleep in a little more, and it especially allows everyone to enjoy the tailgates a lot longer than a 2 PM kickoff would demand. For the away games, it's the simple matter of having more time to enjoy the trip. Both games will be in the evening, and for any Red Raiders that want to make the trip to Tempe or Arlington, the insurance of more time will make these away games tempting to attend.
The biggest benefit of having these games at night is the student attendance. No one was happy about a home opener scheduled in the middle of the day. I remember seeing students leave in packs to avoid dehydration. Even worse, the fans without shade began to disappear too. This doesn't look good for TV, and I'm sure it doesn't sit well with the players who have to play in the actual game with full gear. Attendance will dramatically increase among the student section all thanks to having the games being played at a later time. The weather won't be as extreme, which means the students will stick around longer, and finally all that time tailgating will make the Jones a little rowdier, and as loud as we're use to it being.