Looks like the Gators will be back in the national spotlight early and often in 2016.
The SEC announced kickoff times for the first three weeks of the season, and it looks like they enjoy nighttime in the Swamp just as much as we do. Florida’s season opener against Massachusetts is set to kick off at 7:30pm on the SEC Network- the exact same time slot the Gators received for last year’s opener against New Mexico State (which worked well). The following week, Florida hosts Kentucky at 3:30pm on CBS in what could be Verne Lundquist’s final trip to the Swamp pending the LSU game. Finally, the Gators’ third game of the year, against North Texas, will kick off at 7:30pm; that game will air on ESPNU.
In addition, the Florida-Georgia game has been set to kick off at 3:30pm on CBS, as it has every year since 1996 with one exception (2002).
Initial thoughts: awesome, fans won’t roast in the mid day Florida heat! The Swamp is usually rocking for any home game, but the experience just isn’t the same as it is when the sun goes down. Traditionally, opponents have had little to no success at night in Gainesville, and most of the success opponents have had were in the dead years also known as the Will Muschamp era, plus the year preceding it which featured an incompetent offensive coordinator and a checked out Urban Meyer. And, you know, Treon Harris.
Night games are also tremendous for recruiting, even against sacrificial lambs like UMass and UNT, as they can at least somewhat simulate the experience that could be in store for potential prospects. Recruits see the place going wild at night and dream about someday being the ones who make the place go wild someday. The fact that the Gators figure to win both night games by about 50+ points only adds on to all that.
In any case, the kickoff times being released is just another milestone in the countdown to kickoff. We’re that much closer.