ESPN announced Tuesday its 16-game slate for the annual college basketball 24-hour marathon. It’s safe to now call this an annual tradition, 2015 being its sixth year, and it’s grown to be a highlight for me as a college basketball fan.
The 24-hour marathon doesn’t officially open college basketball season — there are games throughout the preceding weekend — but those two nights book-ending a morning and afternoon feel like the christening of a new campaign.
Kickoff of the college football season has grown in the past decade or so. It was once a sprinkling of games Thursday and Friday to whet your appetite before the smorgasbord on Saturday. But now, Thursday is almost as packed with football as Saturday, and Friday is gaining in significance.
With so much football crammed into Thursday and Friday, and ESPN already adopting the marathon broadcast concept for hoops, I can’t help but wonder the viability of a similar concept on Labor Day weekend.
This year’s opening weekend isn’t too far off. Hawaii and Colorado gets underway at 1 a.m. Friday morning for those on the East Coast, likely to wrap sometime around 4:30. Just 11 hours later, Georgia State hosts Charlotte in the first telecast of Friday games.
Bridging the gap between for a full-fledged marathon requires three games. The unceasing quest for exposure among the Group of Five and FCS grants some flexibility — it’s the motivation behind Georgia State playing at 3:30 local time on a weekday. But asking two teams to kick off at 4 a.m. is ridiculous.
The solution is simple: start the 4 a.m. ET game at 6 p.m.
That’s 6 p.m. Sydney time, mind you.
My blueprint for an all-day football marathon also includes plans to accelerate the oft-discussed globalization of America’s game. Discussion of a bowl game in Australia is already happening, with the Pac-12 unsurprisingly on board.
The Pac-12 Conference has not been bashful about its desire to grow globally. Participating in an Australia bowl game is one measure to that end. Another is this November’s basketball game between the Washington Huskies and Texas Longhorns in China.
Like the Pac-12, Texas has also been at the forefront of talks of globalization. A game in Dubai churned through the rumor mill in April when former Longhorn head coach Mack Brown led a Texas contingent there.
Dubai is beautiful! pic.twitter.com/V1oZV6IRbS
— Mack Brown (@ESPN_CoachMack) April 21, 2015
Dubai, Australia or China, there are overseas options that make sense within the framework of a college football marathon. There would seemingly be willing participants, too, though accommodations for classwork and a bye the following week would have to be ensured.
Play a couple of games internationally in the middle of the night stateside, and before you know it, it’s 10 a.m. ET — a much more reasonable hour for a game played on the American mainland.
In much the same way Montana and North Dakota State start 2015 a week early, or Georgia State kicks off early on a weekday, this morning timeslot is perfect for two under-the-radar programs. A second FCS showcase would be perfect to fill this window.
So there you have it: A roughly 28-hour marathon of college football, all leading up to Saturday and even more action. How many of you brave, football-loving souls would keep the coffee brewing, turn your three-day Labor Day weekend into a four-for and tune in?