arrive in Arizona so close to the game.
Todd Kirkland/Icon SMI
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- I'm here today to address an increasingly alarming issue in college football today: Jet lag.
If you watched last weekend's Cal-Maryland game, you heard the ESPN announcers repeatedly discuss the most logical explanation why Cal -- a week removed from stomping Washington State 66-3 -- suddenly couldn't run the ball or stop the run to save their lives. The reason: The game had kicked off at 9 a.m. on their West Coast body clocks.
My colleague Gennaro Filice argued that should be no excuse for a bunch of highly trained, physically fit 18-to-23-year-olds -- and he may be right. All I know is, as an experienced cross-country traveler, I've found jet lag to be very real and very disruptive.
I bring this up because I'm covering Saturday's Georgia-Arizona State game. I arrived here a couple of days early (not for jet lag; to get some extra pool time, of course). So, too, have an army of UGA fans who began overrunning my hotel Thursday.
I was extremely surprised to find out, however, that the Bulldogs themselves did not.
For its first regular-season game in the Pacific time zone since 1960, Mark Richt's team chose to follow its normal travel routine and leave the day before the game. This did not sit particularly well with linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, who told the Savannah Morning News: "Oh, man, that's going to be hard. We're going to go over there and be three hours behind."
According to the story, Richt made the decision because director of sports medicine Ron Courson spoke with other schools that have played in Arizona and determined that arriving a day earlier would serve no benefit in adjusting to the Desert heat. He made no mention of the time zone.
It may be that Georgia is so much better than the Sun Devils that travel inconveniences won't matter. There's also a big difference between Cal's situation and that of the Dawgs, whose game will be kicking off at a pretty normal time of 8 p.m. on their body clocks.
My only concern would be this: I know when I fly cross-country, I wake up much earlier that first morning than I normally would. If a Georgia player usually wakes up at 8 a.m. on game day, he might wake up at 5 or 6 a.m. here. Between that and a likely game-time temperature close to 100 degrees, I'd be worried about fatigue setting in about halfway through the game.
What do you think? Can jet leg really impact the outcome of a football game? Or is just another trivial storyline to keep us writers and broadcasters occupied?