Alabama's administration isn't pleased that the Sept. 21 football game against Southern Mississippi will be played at 11 a.m. local time, when temperatures are routinely in excess of 90 degrees this time of year.
University President Stuart R. Bell and athletic director Greg Byrne issued a joint statement on the heels of last weekend's 3 p.m. kickoff against New Mexico State, when the heat index was upward of 105 degrees. Cooling stations were set up throughout Bryant-Denny Stadium, but in the second half many fans began clearing out, especially those in sections not shaded from the sun.
"We are disappointed that our game against Southern Miss has been selected as a daytime kickoff at home," the statement from Bell and Byrne read. "We realize we've played more non-conference day games at home in September than any other SEC team since 2014. There have been a number of conversations with our conference office, and they also recognize the challenges these kick times present for our student-athletes and fans."
Alabama played three home games last September, two of which were at 2:30 p.m. and the other was at 11 a.m.
Earlier on Monday, coach Nick Saban began his weekly news conference by acknowledging the heat inside Bryant-Denny Stadium against New Mexico State.
"One thing I would like to say is I know it was a difficult day for our fans because of the circumstances surrounding the weather and I'd like to thank the fans for supporting the team and a lot of people hanging in there to try to support the team," he said. "I think the players really appreciate it. We know it was a difficult circumstance for a lot of folks, and hopefully our administration will continue to work to try to play some of these games at a different time."
But Saban's statement struck a noticeably different tone from that of his postgame comments following the 62-10 win over New Mexico State, when he said how a full stadium enhances the "value of our program" and how recruits "want to see a full house."
"So everybody's got to make a sacrifice," Saban said on Saturday. "You want to be the lion? Everybody got to do something. Everybody wants to be No. 1. If I asked that whole student section, do you want to be No. 1? Nobody would hold their hand up and say I want to be No. 4. They would all say No. 1. But are they willing to do everything to be No. 1? That's another question. You can ask them that. I don't know the answer."
Alabama has tried to entice students into staying longer by using a phone application that tracks location and rewards Tide Loyalty Points: 100 per game for attending a home football game and 250 per game for staying all four quarters. The points can be used toward priority access to student football tickets.
"Personally, I wish it was at noon, so we'd have more time to prepare for our next opponent," Malzahn said.