UNLV works clock wisely with daytime kickoffs

I don’t remember where we were when I suggested UNLV schedule more day football games, and Jim Livengood said that sounded like a good idea.

It might have been on the field in the fourth quarter of the San Diego State game on the night of Nov. 26 when the wind began to blow.

When UNLV announced its 2012 starting times on Friday, three home games were listed with daytime kickoffs – noon against UNR on Oct. 13, 1 p.m. against New Mexico on Nov. 3 and 1 p.m. against Wyoming on Nov. 17.  

In August and September, when UNLV still is bowl eligible and one can boil an egg on the end zone bleachers at Sam Boyd Stadium, the Rebels will play Minnesota, Northern Arizona, Washington State and Air Force at night.

Thanks for running to daylight, Jim. Deadline writers and swing-shift cocktail waitresses at Slots-A-Fun would like to buy you lunch, even if the hot dogs now cost $1.99 and it’s extra for chili and cheese.   

Usually when I offer my services as the UNLV athletic director’s muse, Livengood laughs. Or pulls my leg. For instance, Mike Krzyzewski was in town last week and there was no mention of a Duke-UNLV basketball game to be played outdoors on the Strip, as per my suggestion last year when North Carolina met Michigan State on an aircraft carrier in San Diego Harbor amid a multitude of fanfare and long jump shots affected by the wind.

On Monday, Livengood told me that when plans are finalized he’s going to call it the R.K. Classic. When we got off the phone, my right leg was 2 inches longer than the left one.

So I and those cocktail waitresses will just have to settle for Wyoming vs. UNLV at 1 p.m. on a crisp fall afternoon, the kind of afternoon on which all college football games should be played.

(And a new helmet design, which I like, but didn’t ask for.)

This is the first time since 2006 that UNLV has scheduled three day games. It probably couldn’t have been done without the recent demise of The Mtn., its former broadcast partner when the Utah-Texas Christian women’s basketball game didn’t go into double overtime.  

And while I am sure Rebels fans will miss Colorado State-Wyoming volleyball and the camera cutting off Anne Marie Anderson’s forehead and “A Conversation With … Gus, The Guy Who Sells Hot Dogs at Clune Arena,” they will not miss them as much as they will miss their frostbitten fingers.

(Actually, it was 53 degrees at kickoff of last year’s San Diego State night game or, as we Las Vegans like to call it, parka weather. But 53 degrees at kickoff means 43 degrees by the fourth quarter, and 43 degrees combined with a 2-9 record means a lot of empty seats disguised as football analyst Todd Christensen.)

Before The Mtn. was canceled like the third season of “C.P.O. Sharkey,” it was keen on scheduling football triple-headers. And because the weather in Las Vegas and San Diego generally is warmer than the weather in Laramie or Fort Collins during November, the Rebels or Aztecs generally got stuck with the late game.

The only ones who got exposure were the few fans in the stands. By halftime of the third game of a Mountain West triple-header on The Mtn., even the mother of studio host Darius Payton had stopped watching.

“The Mtn. going away made it a little bit easier,” Livengood said about scheduling more day games, and the impossibility of trying to please every potential ticket-buyer in a three-shift town.

“Sometimes these things work out, sometimes they don’t. But we’re excited about it, particularly to be playing UNR during the day.”

Playing UNR at noon should result in a landmark day for the Bloody Mary salesmen, but it also means the game will be over in plenty of time for the score to be reported in newspapers back East and on the early edition of “SportsCenter.”

Sometimes these things work out, sometimes they don’t.

Sometimes UNR wins 37-0, sometimes UNR wins 44-26, sometimes UNR wins 63-28, sometimes UNR wins, 49-27.  

But considering UNR almost always wins, it’s a wonder UNLV didn’t schedule this year’s game for midnight instead of noon.

Las Vegas Review-Journal sports columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow him on Twitter: @ronkantowski.

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