By Bill Swartz
The better your football team is, the later Pac-12 games you will play. That is the new norm in the "Conference of Champions."
University of Washington head coach Chris Petersen is no fan of late night contests, including a pair of 7:45 p.m. kickoffs his sixth-ranked Huskies will face the next two weekends.
"I just want to say again to our fans we apologize for these late games. It has nothing to do with us, or the administration. We want to play at one o'clock," coach Petersen said during his Monday press gathering.
In the contract negotiated by the Pac-12 a few years back, television networks like Fox and ESPN can exercise a six-day window to select the best games for evening time slots. Eleventh-ranked Washington State is also getting plenty of later kickoffs, including a 7 p.m. contest at Oregon this Saturday.
Fans have little time to plan tailgate parties or travel to away games. In Washington's case, fewer folks will be driving boats on Lake Washington to Husky Stadium knowing the return trip would be close to midnight.
If the conference goal was to get more college football pollsters to vote for its upper-echelon programs, that plan is backfiring.
Coach Petersen stated what everyone except Pac-12 executives seem to realize. "It hurts us tremendously for national exposure. No one on the East Coast is going to watch us that late. I mean, we all know it."
With UW fall classes in full swing the Huskies practice early mornings so the players can focus on academics. Petersen calls it "eating the frog" so the hard part of the day is out of the way. He has no plans to change the schedule in order to assimilate evening games.
On Oct.14, Washington plays Arizona State at 7:45 with the game probably not ending until 11:30. Having covered UW road trips for 10 years I can tell you it will take two hours to pack up team buses. The flight from Phoenix won't get into Seattle until 4 a.m. with players and coaches not feeling the comfort of their beds until 6:00 or 7:00 Sunday morning.
Fortunately the Huskies have a bye the following weekend.
Petersen is asking Dawg fans to make the most of watching five more college football home games. This Saturday night he's urging everyone to wear as much purple clothing as possible. The team will don mostly purple uniforms when they take on the Golden Bears.
Radio coverage begins at 2:30 with KOMO kickoff hosted by Gaard Swanson. Kickoff is 7:45 p.m. with Bob Rondeau,
Damon Huard and Elise Woodward providing the description on KOMO am 1000/ fm 97.7