Mike Leach doesn't mind the late kickoffs, but Gabe Marks isn't really a fan
Washington State coach Mike Leach has a reputation for being a night owl, often working into the wee hours of the morning before leaving the office and making his three-mile walk home in the dark.
So it comes as no surprise that he’s one of the rare coaches in college football who doesn’t mind playing night games.
“I don’t mind it,” Leach said Monday, shortly after WSU announced that their game at Oregon State on Oct. 29 is slated for a 7:45 p.m. kickoff. “I like night games. There’s a special feeling for night games, just the whole atmosphere is more exciting during night games. The crowd is more cranked up during night games.”
The Oregon State game will mark the sixth time this year that WSU has played in a game that started at 6 p.m. or later.
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Given how frequently the Cougars throw the ball, their games generally take about three and a half hours, which means they’re seldom out of the stadium before 10 p.m.. At Boise State, for instance, the game kicked off at 8:26 p.m. and did not end till 12:05 a.m. the next morning.
So late starts make for long nights, especially when the Cougars are on the road and have to hop on a plane to fly back to Pullman right after the game.
Leach might like the night games, but WSU receiver Gabe Marks isn’t a fan.
“I think college football should be played (in) the day time,” Marks said. “That’s just my opinion. There’s something cool about playing a college football game at 1 p.m. on a Saturday and winning the game and going and having fun with your friends and celebrating instead of getting out at 12 at night and waking up the next morning and doing it again.”
The hangover effect from a string of night games can take a toll on players and coaches over the course of a season.
“The day game makes Sunday and Monday a little easier because you get some things done and get squared away and have a quicker start because you’re not coming back so late,” Leach said. “Because nobody goes to bed right after a game. You go through a post-mortem, you write notes and sift through stuff.
“I try to watch the game on my iPad on the plane and do as many notes as I can. It’s probably better advice to sleep, but I can’t sleep while on the plane.”
As rough as the day-after hangover can be, Marks says the interminable waiting on Saturday afternoon is the worst thing about late kickoffs.
On Saturdays, “you wake up, you have breakfast and you’ve got the special teams meeting and then you go back to your room and sit around for four hours and then you eat the pre-game meal and then have another meeting,” Marks said.
Players aren’t allowed to leave the hotel during that afternoon break, so Marks says he usually watches college football and naps until it’s time to go to the stadium.
“It’s a lot of wasted time,” Marks said. “I wonder if you calculated it up, how much time is wasted in hotels for these night games over a season.”
What’s worse than night games? In Leach’s opinion, a 10 a.m. start.
His favorite kickoff time?
“Between 1 and 4 p.m.,” he said. “But the night deal, once you sequence it out and get used to it, it works out extremely well for the game itself, the day of.”