It’s Not LSU – Which SEC Team Leads League in 11 A.M. Kickoffs?
Here in Louisiana, there is a tradition on Saturday regarding college football. That tradition dictates that college football games are best played in the evening on a Saturday night in a stadium full of overserved and rowdy fans. The LSU Tigers like to play their games on Saturday night. So do Louisiana's Ragin Cajuns and the McNeese Cowboys.
Now it could be that Saturday night just provides the best atmosphere for the games. Or, the real reason might be that it's still pretty darn hot in Louisiana through most of October so night games keep your team and your team's fans out of the heat.
But still for a football-hungry nation waiting until 6 p.m. or later for a kickoff can be difficult. Back in the day when televising college football games was still in its infancy there used to be a game that would come on at 11 a.m. on Saturday mornings. The game was sponsored by Jefferson Pilot Insurance, before that it was just the Raycom game, but it was the "first" SEC game of the Saturday schedule.
The "Jefferson Pilot" game as it has come to be known was also seen as a bit of a "slap in the face" by many SEC programs and their fan bases who felt like the JP game was beneath them. Even today the early kick-off is viewed as a "snub" by a lot of programs around the conference.
The reason is simple, back in the day the JP game almost always featured "second-tier" teams. The 11 a.m. game was where you caught up with Vanderbilt, Kentucky, Mississippi State, and South Carolina. You know the teams that were penciled in by other schools as a guaranteed "W" before the season started.
Every now and again you'd have a great game, around here we remember a game versus Kentucky back in 2002 that became known as the Bluegrass Miracle. But usually, the 11 a.m. or JP game was a blowout or a battle of the unconcerned.
So, based on this reasoning you'd think the team that has appeared on TV in the 11 a.m. slot the most would have to be a "slacker school", right? You couldn't be more wrong. The team that's been featured in more early Saturday starts than any other SEC team is the defending national champions, the Georgia Bulldogs.
Georgia has kicked off before lunch 39 times which is only 1 better than the Florida Gators another team that you don't think of when it comes to "Jefferson Pilot" kickoff time. The rest of the list features South Carolina with 37 games, Missouri with 36, and Vanderbilt with 34.
The team with the fewest 11 a.m. kickoffs? Is the LSU Tigers. The Tigers have only been featured at 11 a.m. starts 11 times. Alabama has the next fewest at 15 and low and behold everybody's whippin' boy, Mississippi State has the third-fewest "JP" kicks at 23 which is three fewer than the Bulldog's hated rival Ole Miss who have 26.
Just so no fan base gets butthurt the rest of the teams and their 11 a.m. start stats were as follows: Kentucky has 34, Arkansas 31, Tennessee 28, Auburn 26, and Texas A&M 26. By the way, the Aggies and Arkansas have an 11 a.m. kick on Saturday as do the Kentucky Wildcats and Florida Gators. Georgia and Auburn are the CBS game at 2:30, and Vandy and Mizzou will kick off at 3 p.m.
The Saturday evening action in the SEC will feature a 5 p.m. kick between LSU and Ole Miss. Tennessee and South Carolina will kick off at 6:30 and the upset of the weekend Mississippi State defeating Alabama will kick off at 8 p.m.
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