Yesterday's announcement by ASU that the first four games of the season will kickoff at 7p.m. has been greeted by some as evidence of a change in policy by the Athletic Department.
Don't be fooled. Nothing has really changed.
These games are all in September, and ASU has for many years now kept September games at night. The notable exception was last season's game versus Oregon, although that was played on the last day of the month. Prior to that, the last home game in September to kickoff prior to 7p.m. that this writer can recall was the Oregon game in 1996, a week after the epic win over Nebraska.
The real issue with day games has always been, and continues to be, games played in October. The Notre Dame game in 1998 was played on October 10 when it was still brutally hot. I clearly remember many people leaving at half time due to the heat, and a good friend had to spend the second half in the concourses to get out of the sun.
I must admit to being of split opinion when it comes to day games. On one hand, the additional exposure of having the game televised is good for the program, and one could argue that the heat is only a factor when the Devils are getting killed (the USC game in 1996 was a 12:30p.m. kickoff yet no one left that game complaining about the heat!).
However, there is something magical about Sun Devil Stadium at night. There is a buzz that just doesn't exist during day games. One of the greatest atmospheres I can recall was the game in 1997 versus Ryan Leaf and his unbeaten Washington State team. That game was played at night on November 1.
Regardless of the month, I believe the Athletic Department should do everything in its power to keep ALL home games at night, even the late season games. I am still not clear (and would love an official explanation) as to whether ASU can actually refuse to move a Pac-10 game for TV. The real test this year will be the two October home games versus Washington (13th) and Cal (27th).