Noon football games are no fun for fans. Standing and sitting in 80- to 90-degree heat for four hours with little, if any, shade has a very low ceiling of enjoyment, even if the activities on the field are enjoyable to watch.
Not just the heat, though. In the South, tailgating for football games is a tradition bordering on religion. And considering tailgates generally start four to five hours before kickoff is scheduled, a noon game calls for tailgating to begin by 7 a.m., a ludicrous proposition.
But what is fun for fans, especially fans who have deemed struggling through noon kickoffs worth it, is watching their favorite team win. And in games that kick off between noon and 12:30, all NC State does is win.
Among its last 15 games that kicked off between noon and 12:30 p.m., the Wolfpack is 15-0 with an average margin of victory of 20.6 points per game, including nine wins over ACC opponents.
Head coach Dave Doeren does an incredible job getting his players ready for noon games and avoiding coming out of the gates lethargic and tired, something that is an obvious potential issue for 18- to 23-year-old college students.
The fans’ complaints are more than fair; the Pack certainly does get handed a disproportionate amount of noon games. With 29 noon kickoffs in its last 48 regular season games (including Saturday’s game against West Virginia) dating back to 2015, the Pack has had twice as many noon kickoffs as Wake Forest and 12 more than UNC.
While it is fair to acknowledge that the Pack’s scheduling has mostly to do with television rights, there is no reason for over 70% of its games to kick off between noon and 12:30 p.m.
But for Wolfpack fans, from students who are fans by association and don’t closely follow the team to the most die-hard, message board-commenting fans, noon games should be looked at as competitive blessings.
The only thing football fans in the South love more than their tailgates are their football teams winning, and despite having to sacrifice some tailgating time and turning into a puddle of sweat in the bleachers, NC State fans have gotten to see their favorite team win plenty of games.
There is no telling if Doeren specifically recruits early birds, but what’s clear is that the early bird gets the worm, and the NC State bird has been filling its stomach the last few years.