By Joey Hart, Asst. Editorial Editor
In coordination with the Mid American Conference and the Southeastern Conference, the NCAA has announced that the 2016 St. Petersburg Bowl kickoff time will be rescheduled to 4 a.m. on December 25.
The bowl, which will feature the Miami Redhawks against the Mississippi State Bulldogs, was originally schedule for 11 a.m. on December 26. However, the NCAA released a statement Monday evening which said that the originally scheduled time “wasn’t inconvenient enough for players and fans” and needed to be even more arbitrary than originally planned.
“We pride ourselves on creating a product that fans can enjoy,” the statement read. “Football is a great game, and unless we make watching and playing in that game as hard as possible on fans and players, the integrity of the competition may be compromised.”
The statement went on to say that it is imperative that players spend “as little time as possible with their families” during the holidays and that hosting the bowl game on the morning after Christmas day “just wasn’t taking enough time out of players’ lives.”
“We have to remember, these are student-athletes, and the student part of that must always come first,” the statement said. “Giving up being with your family during the most familial time of year is just a part of the NCAA’s commitment to amateurism and education.”
Miami head coach Chuck Martin said that although he is excited about the upcoming game, he was upset about the decision to schedule it at such an inappropriate time, among other things.
“I’m really just mad that we didn’t get put in the Bahamas Bowl,” Martin said. “I mean, seriously. I really wanted to go snorkeling.”
Martin added that he “didn’t coach this team to six straight wins so we could play an SEC West team in a baseball stadium.”
Sources within the NCAA have confirmed that discussions are in the works to move the College Football Playoff semifinal games to Christmas Eve, as well as to increase the number of bowl games from the current 41 to 83. Given the fact that there are only 128 football programs in Division I FBS, the bowls would fill the empty slots with the best teams from other subordinate college football divisions.