Alabama-Michigan and college football’s opening weekend: Don’t be upset with the TV schedule

Mark your calendars, fire up the grill, and send your wife to the mall for the day: The biggest game of the college football opening weekend is now officially set!

That’s right, the announcement we’ve all been waiting for officially came yesterday, when the powers that be let us know that the September 1 showdown between Alabama and Michigan at Cowboys Stadium has received the coveted 8 p.m., ABC kickoff. You can now set your clocks accordingly.

This, from

The kickoff time for the 2012 Cowboys Classic football game pitting Alabama against Michigan has been set for 7 p.m. Central Time on Saturday, September 1, with ABC Sports televising the contest to a national audience.

Alabama will be the home team and the Wolverines will be the away team. The game officials will be from the Big 12 Conference.

But seriously, are you ready for some football?

Of course there’s a bit more to this story, as in the land of college football- where everything becomes a story, whether intended or not- some fans are already upset with the scheduling. Not so much with the scheduling of this game per se; since the biggest game should get the best time-slot. Instead the frustration comes with another funny scheduling decision by ABC and ESPN (corporate partners, as you all know), to put the weekend’s second biggest game (Clemson-Auburn) nearly side by side with Alabama-Michigan. That game will kick off at 7p.m. EST, 6 p.m. CT, just an hour prior to the big one between the Wolverines and Crimson Tide.

And because of it, a lot of college football fans are upset. After all, with a full Saturday to spread out just a few signature games, why put both on at nearly identical times?

Now, there are compelling points to be made on the subject, and if you’re looking to hear that argument, my main man Barrett Sallee at the Bleacher Report wrote a really persuasive piece on it. I encourage you all to check it out.

But me personally? Well, I’m not too upset.

Now, would I like to see the two games in two separate timeslots, so that we can fully enjoy each? Of course I would. At the same time, I’d also like Mila Kunis to call and invite out for an evening on the town on Friday night. It doesn’t mean either will happen. And in the grand scheme of all things that bother me about college football, this just isn’t near the top.

And even if you don’t agree with me, just remember one thing: While this TV schedule isn’t ideal, it’s already better than it was last year.

As you may remember, last year’s opening weekend was peppered with a bunch of mediocre games, a few good ones, and two truly fantastic ones: Boise vs. Georgia in Atlanta, and LSU and Oregon at Cowboys Stadium. As you may also remember, both were 8 p.m. kickoffs, meaning that college football fans really were forced to pick one or the other, and click furiously to catch on everything in between.

With an hour overlap between this year’s signature opening weekend games, it won’t be nearly as bad. We’ll probably get a full quarter and a half of Auburn-Clemson before we even have to consider flipping over to Alabama-Michigan, and after a few plays over there, it’ll be halftime of the first game. At that point we’ll get plenty more Saban and Hoke, before getting the second game back underway, right as Michigan and Alabama goes into halftime. And so on. The hour really does make a world of difference, and will allow us to see many more plays combined than if the two games were head to head.

Factor in other stuff like corporate dollars (you think Chick-Fil-A, the title sponsor of Auburn-Clemson would be excited about a 3:30 kickoff? I don’t), ratings (I have to assume the 7 p.m. timeslot does better than the noon or 3:30) and you can see why this decision seems a little tougher than it might be on paper. Plus, for fans who are in attendance at the game, and for the players on the field, what’s better than an evening kickoff? The biggest games deserve the brightest lights, something that the 7 p.m. kickoff affords.

So in the end, is this whole thing ideal? I’d say not.

Also, let’s remember one very important thing: We’re arguing over what time a college football game should be played, meaning that by that point… teams will actually be playing college football!!!!

And really, what’s better than that?!

For all his insight, analysis and articles on college football and beyond, be sure to follow Aaron on Twitter @Aaron_Torres.

About Aaron Torres

Aaron Torres works for Fox Sports, and was previously a best-selling author of the book 'The Unlikeliest Champion.' He currently uses Aaron Torres Sports to occasionally weigh-in on the biggest stories from around sports. He has previously done work for such outlets as Sports Illustrated, SB Nation and Slam Magazine.