Changing kickoff times for television purposes brings about a whole slew of problems for fans and athletic departments alike.
But, as Kansas University is finding out, it also can be quite lucrative.
On Monday, the Big 12 announced that the Kansas-Kansas State football game, originally scheduled for a 1 p.m. kickoff on Oct. 31, will instead kick off at 11:30 on Halloween morning at KU's Memorial Stadium so that it may be televised regionally as part of the league's TV syndication. It will be available locally on channels 4 and 13.
Last week, the league announced this Saturday's KU-Colorado game would kick off at 6 p.m. for broadcast on Fox. That kickoff, too, originally was scheduled for 1 p.m.
KU-Kansas State will be Kansas' sixth television game this season, and the extra tube time will mean in excess of half-a-million dollars to the KU athletics department.
``It's awesome,'' KU associate athletics director Richard Konzem said. ``It's a substantial help. We feel bad that we do have these game-time changes. It's a problem that we well recognize for fans and groups planning activities and events surrounding the game. But it's the way scheduling works with television in our league. I wish there was a better way to do it, and we're always exploring better ways.
``But you want to be on television. It's good exposure for the athletic program and it's better exposure for your institution. Our fans can watch our games, and it helps pay the bills for our wide-ranging 20-sport program that we offer. It's a big part of paying those bills.''
The league and Fox recently renegotiated their television contract, so the exact additional worth of KU's TV appearances is impossible to measure. According to the old contracts with both ABC and Fox, every league school was given $750,000 up front, and then each school was to be given an additional $142,000 for each appearance on ABC and $72,500 for each Fox appearance. Schools are limited to five ABC appearances a year.
KU, which has appeared twice on ABC and will have appeared four times on Fox by season's end, would get an additional $574,000 for its tube time. But the new Fox contract -- with more guaranteed Fox broadcasts -- is more lucrative, and league athletic officials have not yet decided how to divvy up the additional coinage.
KU athletics director Bob Frederick is on the subcommittee that will come up with a proposal for dividing up the additional sum, and that subcommittee will make its recommendation in December.
``We haven't even met yet,'' Frederick said. ``But it's safe to say we'll make even more than that ($574,000).''
Kansas-Kansas State hasn't been televised on a regional basis since 1994, and the Big 12's announcement caught even Konzem by surprise.
The other Big 12 games that will be televised on Oct. 31 are Texas at Nebraska (2:30 p.m. on ABC) and Texas A&M at Oklahoma State (6 p.m. on FOX).
``I've charted these things,'' Konzem said, ``and I was surprised by this one. I am, quite frankly, shocked.''
KU has had to change four kickoffs to accommodate television. Its ABC appearances -- against Oklahoma State in the opener and Missouri in Week Two -- were set before the start of the season to kick off at 2:30 p.m. But Texas A&M, Nebraska, Colorado and K-State all were slated for 1 p.m. kickoffs.
A&M and K-State moved up to 11:30, while NU and CU shifted to 6 p.m.
``As a guy who travels with football and who schedules football traveling, I understand how difficult it is,'' Konzem said. ``I know 6 p.m. is the most dramatic, especially when you're the visiting team on the road. Just ask Kansas at Nebraska last week. All of a sudden our noon checkout at the hotel becomes a negotiation. It messes with your airplane plans. Ask A&M. Our game time with A&M was changed, and they sat around our stadium for two-plus hours. They couldn't get an earlier flight out.
``A change to 11:30 is not as disruptive. It's only an hour-and-a-half. I know it's a problem for out-of-town fans, but most people coming to the game are in town by 11 anyway. You're just going to the stadium right away.''
Kansas enters the Colorado game 2-5 overall, 0-5 in the Big 12, but television sets and television drama play a bigger factor in television broadcast than records do. KU-CU, for instance, was picked up by Fox in large part because of the huge number of Fox TV sets -- that is, viewers who get Fox Sports Rocky Mountain -- in Colorado.
``With the exception of this last game, we've been very, very competitive until the end,'' Konzem said. ``We've been close, and the outcome has very much been in doubt in the fourth quarter of those games. That's a factor, too.''
-- Andrew Hartsock's phone number is 832-7216. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.