Thoughts on Kickoff Time in Austin

When it was announced that the Alabama football game at Texas on September 10 would start at 11 a.m. on Fox, there were no announcements of appreciation from anywhere. The reason is obvious. Early season games are played in warm weather, and Texas is about as warm as it gets.

That’s not to say the Crimson Tide won’t be as well conditioned as it’s possible to get in camp “Fall,” the August preseason training period at the Heart of Dixie. The combination of heat and humidity requires a lot of liquid. I’ve always thought the value of an indoor training facility was as much to protect yourself from the heat to work hard as it was to protect you from the storms.

There were some interesting comments from fans in Texas, who are no more happy with the noontime TV hour than fans in Bama.

One suggested that Texas play in their white uniforms and Alabama play in Crimson, the “benefit” not only being that white reflects heat and darkness absorbs it. It was also added that since burnt orange uniforms – usually the Longhorns’ home dress – have the same distinction as any uniform that includes orange, that of being ugly – white uniforms are more attractive and that would excite the crowd.

A few Texas fans bought into it, but most didn’t believe it — especially the hope that a uniform pick might affect the crowd’s enthusiasm. Alabama has seen some of that over the years, including the big blackout in Georgia that resulted in a big Bulldogs loss in Athens in 2008.

Other Texas fans also noted that it was hot in Alabama and the Crimson Tide would not be overwhelmed by the Texas heat. Also, for many years, Bama and most of the other teams have cooling equipment on the sidelines.

A surely ironic observation was that maybe Alabama linebackers Will Anderson, Jr. and Dallas Turner would be worn out in the second half because they would have expended so much energy in the Texas backfield.

A few other comments:

“If we’re looking for a consistent color advantage, we need a better S&C program.”

“How about playing football smarter, stronger and more solid!!! That’s what Bama does to do.

“Alabama is hot too. You set yourself up for failure by acting like it’s 75 years there.

“[Alabama]I will be fit, deep and ready to play.

In recent years, Alabama has had its first game of the season in a controlled environment, those kickoff games in the Atlanta and Arlington domes, but those are now over as Bama opts for the home series with non-conference heavyweights in the future.

Once upon a time too, before television money ruled the schedules, Southern teams had many early season games starting after sunset. No more.

Back in the heat of Texas, when Dennis Francione came to Alabama from TCU, the Tide had a workout in August with temperatures approaching 100. Francione noted that in Fort Worth, where he was from, it was over 100 that day.

Prior to the 1970 season, when the NCAA allowed teams to add an 11th regular season game, Alabama coach Paul Bryant arranged with Southern Cal for a home-and-away series, the first game to open the 1970 season at Birmingham. Many thought the Trojans would be affected by the Alabama heat, even though it was an overnight game.

Final score: Southern Cal 42, Alabama 21.

There was a game where I thought the Alabama heat had an effect on an opponent. In 1975, Washington came to Tuscaloosa, a game celebrated by both sides’ remaining players, and even Tide coach Wallace Wade, from the 1925 season when Bama defeated the Huskies in the team’s first Rose Bowl appearance. ‘Alabama.

Washington had a very good team, but they didn’t dress well. Long-sleeved jerseys and high woolen socks. Final: Alabama 52, Washington 0.

As for this year’s Texas game, the players will be conditioned to a much higher degree than the fans. It will be hot at Darrell K. Royal-Texas Memorial Stadium.

About Harold Shirley

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