Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton (D) does not like 11 a.m. kickoffs and wants to use his power to do something about them.
Dayton told the St. Paul Pioneer-Press that he wants to propose legislation barring any Minnesota home game from kicking off before noon. Seriously.
"They talk about the concern about attendance at the Gopher games -- they start them at 11 o'clock in the morning," Dayton said Tuesday in an interview with the Pioneer Press. "I'm going to propose that we pass a law that no (Division I FBS) football game in Minnesota can start before noon."
He then said "If you want to tailgate, you have to be there by 9 a.m.," Dayton said. "Most students I don't think are awake at 9 a.m."
Minnesota had all four Big Ten home games start at 11 a.m. local time in 2014. Television times are usually determined two weeks prior to game time as networks make their selections based on the attractiveness of matchups.
"(When) I grew up and went to Gopher games, they started at 1 or 1:30 ... and you knew that for the whole season, so you blocked out those days," Dayton said. "Now, it's about, 'What time does TV want to put us on?' It's all driven by television and the dollars involved there."
While Dayton (67) has a point about the students, it's not an incredibly large one in the grand scheme of college football. While student attendance is a problem for some universities, it's going to take a lot of attendance struggles for it to become a widespread issue. Why? Because television dollars rule all.
Without the Big Ten's television deal with Fox, ESPN and its own network, Minnesota would have far less revenue than it currently brings in. And a ban on morning kickoffs would threaten the Gophers' standing on the television landscape.
Minnesota's final two home games were on either ESPN2 or ABC. If, on the off-chance that Dayton's proposal became reality and was passed into law, those timeslots wouldn't obviously have been available. Without those options, there's a sgnificant chance that Minnesota would end up with more games on the Big Ten Network, which doesn't have the widespread base-tier distribution that ESPN does.
And if you're of the thought that ESPN concentrates more on games it has the rights to, it pushes the Gophers away from the ESPN microscope.
Risking exposure for a football program is not worth satisfying a personal preference. And Dayton did acknowledge that his potential proposal might not get any traction, though if it does, he'd like to see if other governors with schools in the conference would be intrigued.
Our guess is that they won't be.
For more Minnesota news, visit GopherIllustrated.com.
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