Morgantown, West Virginia – When the West Virginia Mountaineers play the Minnesota Gophers in Phoenix, Arizona in the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, it will start on a Tuesday night at 10:15PM. Or 10:30. Or 10:45.
Because, as you already know, ESPN won’t switch over to the start of the West Virginia game until the 42-17 blowout between Mississippi State and Texas Tech fully finishes. That last 7 minutes and 30 seconds of one team milking the clock is completely unwatchable, but instead of flipping to the start of the Guaranteed Rate Bowl, ESPN will delay the kickoff and/or move the game temporarily to ESPN News or ESPNU.
Everything will feel so rushed and chaotic and uninspired, and when the game actually does kick off, there will be no time for proper player introductions or pregame analysis. Isn’t this how West Virginia games on ESPN always turn out?
Although West Virginia University has very little power to decide where they will and won’t play, it’s disheartening that many fans will not be able to watch the culmination of the season due to the unfair start time of the game.
Remember, this game is being played at 10:15 on a Tuesday night and won’t end until early into Wednesday morning (2:00AM?). Some people will be off between Christmas and New Year’s Eve on December 28th, but most West Virginians will be expected to wake up the next morning for work.
While Neal Brown and his players will no doubt enjoy staying in a luxury resort and the extra practice in a beautiful climate for a few days, a bowl game in Phoenix, Arizona on a Tuesday night just doesn’t make any sense for the state of West Virginia.
What percentage of West Virginia fans will be able to afford flight, hotel, rental car and tickets in Phoenix right after Christmas? Although West Virginia always travels well, a trip to the other side of the country to watch a 6-6 Mountaineers team compete against a good but uninteresting Minnesota team seems less than thrilling.
Minnesota will be a great challenge and the game is certainly good for the West Virginia Mountaineers football program, but it is not at all ideal for West Virginia residents and fans.