The networks involved with Pac-12 Conference college football — ESPN and Fox, and to a degree, the Pac-12 Network itself — played their six-day-out trump card last week.
(We’re not even sure that’s a phrase are authorized to use without some trademark violation, but we’ll give it a shot.)
What that move meant was the TV partners could stall until last Sunday morning before letting everyone know that USC (5-3, 4-2) would be getting its homecoming game against Oregon (3-5, 1-4) on Saturday with a kickoff of … still, wait for it, if you haven’t heard … 4 p.m. ESPN claimed it, and will have Joe Tessitore, Todd Blackledge and Holly Rowe there (plus a national ESPN Radio feed with Marc Kestechner and Tom Ramsey).
Obviously, the system is rigged.
Since this involves a homecoming game, there is a rule in place where ESPN couldn’t just shoehorn USC into the 7:30 p.m. slot (it found another Pac-12 matchup for that window anyway.) But an earlier start — maybe 12:30 p.m., or 1 p.m. — might have been more older-alum sensitive.
Rationally thinking, there’s an obvious dictatorship system at work here, friendly to some, not so much with others.
“We’re so dictated by TV schedules,” USC coach Clay Helton said prior to the Trojans’ Thursday night home game against Cal that, if we recall, ESPN grabbed before the season bean. “TV runs the monster. Sometimes you’re going to get an advantage. Sometimes it’s going to hurt you.”
Meanwhile, UCLA (3-5, 1-4) has to re-adjust its student-athlete’s class schedules for a field trip to Boulder, Colo., on one of those required Thursday night appearance. The Bruins go to Pac-12 South-leading and No. 15 Colorado (6-2, 4-1) at 6 p.m. to be buried on FS1 (Joe Davis, Brady Quinn and Jenny Taft).
Neither kickoff day or time for USC or UCLA are all that desirable in the bigger picture. The Trojans are somewhat buried in a time slot that makes for strange shadows at the start then forces older alums to stay out later in the colder night air. The Bruins can’t win because of the same reasons why Thursday night NFL ratings are miserable — trying to spread too many games over too many days.
(Meanwhile, with the new College Football Playoff 12-member committee rankings out, we can use them to accentuate the importance of games coming up):
How the rest of the Pac-12 lines up:
= Oregon State (2-6, 1-4) at Stanford (5-3, 3-3), Saturday at 12:30 p.m., FS1 (Justin Kutcher, Petros Papadakis, A.J. Hawk)
= Arizona (2-6, 0-5) at No. 25 Washington State (6-2, 5-0), Saturday at 1 p.m., Pac-12 Network (Roxy Bernstein, Anthony Herron, Lewis Johnson)
= No. 5 Washington (8-0, 5-0) at Cal (4-4, 2-3), Saturday at 7:30 p.m., ESPN (Mark Jones, Rod Gilmore, Quint Kessenich)
Note: No. 16 Utah (7-2, 4-2) and Arizona State (5-4, 2-4) have a bye week prior to a Thursday, Nov. 10 meeting.
The best of the rest (after No. 23 Western Michigan was made to go on the road for a Tuesday night victory to fill out ESPN2’s schedule):
= No. 14 Oklahoma at Iowa State, 4:30 p.m., ESPN (Dave Flemming, Jesse Palmer, Laura Rutledge)
= San Jose State at No. 24 Boise State, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2 (Dave Lamont, Ray Bentley)
ESPN “College GameDay” goes to Baton Rouge, La., for the 11th time prior to the Alabama-LSU contest that CBS added to its prime-time window:
= Notre Dame vs. Navy at Jacksonville, Fla., 8:30 a.m., Channel 2
= Air Force at Army, 9 a.m., CBSSN,
= No. 4 Texas A&M at Mississippi State, 9 a.m., SEC Network (Dave Neal, Matt Stinchcomb, Olivia Harlan)
= Vanderbilt at No. 9 Auburn, 9 a.m., ESPN (Mike Patrick, Ed Cunningham, Dr. Jerry Punch)
= No. 7 Louisville at Boston College, 9 a.m., ESPN2 (Jason Benetti, Kelly Stouffer, Paul Carcaterra)
= Texas at Texas Tech, 9 a.m., FS1 (Tim Brando, Spencer Tillman, Bruce Feldman)
= Michigan State at Illinois, 9 a.m., ESPNEWS (Mike Couzens, Dan Hawkins)
= No. 8 Wisconsin at Northwestern, 9 a.m., Channel 7 (Bob Wischusen, Brock Huard, Allison Williams)
= No. 11 Florida at Arkansas, 12:30 p.m., Channel 2 (Brad Nessler, Aaron Taylor)
= Maryland at No. 3 Michigan, 12:30 p.m., ESPN (Steve Levy, Brian Griese, Todd McShay)
= No. 18 Oklahoma State at Kansas State, 12:30 p.m., Channel 7 (Allen Bestwick, Mike Bellotti, Kris Budden)
= Syracuse at No. 2 Clemson, 12:30 p.m., ESPN2 (Dave Pasch, Greg McElroy, Tom Luginbill)
= No. 19 Virginia Tech at Duke, 12:30 p.m., ESPNU (Clay Matvick, Dusty Dvoracek)
= TCU at No. 17 Baylor, 12:30 p.m., Channel 11 (Gus Johnson, Joel Klatt, Shannon Spake)
= BYU at Cincinnati, 12:30 p.m., CBSSN (Dave Ryan, Corey Chavous,Melanie Collins)
= Missouri at South Carolina, 1 p.m., SEC Network (Tom Hart, Andre Ware, Cole Cubelic)
Late afternoon kickoffs:
= No. 22 Florida State at North Carolina State, 4 p.m., ESPNU (Anish Shroff, Ahmad Brooks, Kevin Weidl)
= Hawaii at San Diego State, 4 p.m., CBSSN (Rich Waltz, Eric Davis, Cassie McKinney)
= Kansas at No. 20 West Virginia, 4 p.m., ESPN2 (Beth Mowins, Anthony Becht, Rocky Boiman)
= Iowa at No. 12 Penn State, 4:30 p.m., Big Ten Network (Kevin Kugler, Matt Millen, Lisa Byington)
= Georgia at Kentucky, 4:30 p.m., SEC Network (Brent Musburger, Jesse Palmer, Kaylee Hartung)
= No. 1 Alabama at No. 13 LSU, 5 p.m., Channel 2 (Verne Lundquist, Gary Danielson,Allie LaForce)
= No. 10 Nebraska at No. 6 Ohio State, 5 p.m., Channel 7 (Chris Fowler, Kirk Herbstreit, Samantha Ponder)
= Utah State at Wyoming, 7:15 p.m., ESPN2 (Mark Neely, Peter Najarian, Alex Corddry)
= Nevada at New Mexico, 7:15 p.m., ESPNU (Roy Philpott, Brian Kinchen)