What's worse than a 7:30 pm start for a college football game?
The noon start.
Seven thirty on the west coast means 10:30 on the east. And you wonder why no one sees Pac-12 games? With a late game, at least Duck fans see how the rest of the nation matches up.
It's worse for the noon start games. If the Colorado vs. Oregon game is any indicator, fewer people saw the early game than the too-late games.
Any game with 70 points doesn't hold casual fans past halftime. They see the score on the crawler and figure it’s Alabama punishing NE Directional State. This was no different. It was over by the first quarter.
You could change channels unless you were at the game.
And that's the best part. I was out and about on a Saturday. With my wife and our friends.
A noon start means showing up early for the best parking spot. My group arrived at 8:30. By nine we were into the cooler for the second Silver Bullet of the day. Call it tailgate discipline.
Tipping beers before noon is not a good sign, unless you compare Pac-12 tailgating to the SEC. In that case you'd better be drinking from the night before. They call it part of the culture, like Boudreaux and Thiboeaux.
If the Pac-12 does not have beer rules, it should. There's something wrong with popping Coors Light when the Colorado Buffalo are in the house. It might be their go-to beer, but not in the land of Ninkasi.
If beer rules were enforced by beer police, no one would be allowed to open any container from the state of the opposing team. No Rainier when the Huskies or Cougs come to Eugene.
No California or Arizona suds when those teams come in. Anyone name a beer from California or Arizona? Utah?
Hitting a cooler full of Colorado mountain fresh water before the Ducks play the University of Colorado might seem wrong, but only as wrong as the once dominant Olympia beer from Washington. Their slogan was, 'It's the water' but they never did anything about that water.
The noon game in SEC country is just another Saturday, the same as a night game at LSU. Start drinking early and maintain an even strain down south. If you want to be the best, you've got to beat the best on and off the field.
At least that is the idea. And you must represent correctly. No falling out for sports fans. Keep the momentum.
Early drinking in the Autzen tailgate areas find mixed drinks in the hands of very accomplished looking women. They set the pace. They'd back down any southern belle.
Others do something more traditional in the Northwest. If it's raining, they wear a raincoat with their UO colors on the outside. No umbrella. It might look like a homeless person in a dress, but it's dry.
Other colleges might have paved parking areas, but Oregon believes in mud. The players make their cuts on turf; the fans get the rain soaked dirt. And they'd better have enough balance to stay on their feet.
A quick scan of the tailgating crowd showed no one had taken a dive. No muddy backsides.
Part of the pre-game preparation is checking out the rigs in the parking lot. The Ducks pass with flying colors. How else can you grade a party wagon / ambulance combo? That covers the over-done party master who tanks early, and the under-done party dog who takes it too far too soon.
One gurney fits all.
Stay on your feet long enough to cheer the game and you rule. But if the score is out of hand after the first quarter, then what?
Retire to the nearby beer tent at halftime and never leave.
This is where the astute fan sees the future. The only future for a team like the Oregon Ducks is the same future for a team like the Alabama Crimson Tide. Both coaches focus on the last game of the year, the BCS National Championship.
Alabama's Nick Saban started his campaign. He says the Oregon offense might be a danger to college football by straining players forced to stay on the field by Oregon's no-huddle spread.
Did Oregon's Chip Kelly counter with the risk his team faced playing Auburn and LSU? Not a word. Why is that?
Because Oregon knows to be the best you, beat the best. The SEC is the best. Look at the last half-decade of national champs. Alabama crushes. LSU crushes. Auburn crushes.
They all crushed their way to the top, which is where the Ducks are aimed. Where is Auburn after beating Oregon? Where is LSU after beating the Ducks? All the Ducks have done is get better and better.
Clear the path for a non-SEC champion this year. When the fans do it up like they do down south, good things follow.
When the Autzen crowd includes young men with necks as wide as their heads, championships are on the way. You don't want those guys turning things over and setting them on fire.
Nothing would have burned in the rain before the Colorado game, but the smoldering expectations are growing toward ignition.
Drag USC through the mud on Saturday and march on.