If you’re anything like me (that is, a rabid follower of college football and our beloved Stanford Cardinal), then you’ve already gotten over our gut-wrenching, heart-stopping loss to Oklahoma State in the Fiesta Bowl and are looking eagerly forward to spring ball and the start of next season. Basketball? A silly game where unnaturally tall people run back and forth for no discernible reason. Baseball? Can’t keep me awake past the second inning. The NFL playoffs? OK, I’ll admit you got me on that one, but those only last until February.
I always knew Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott cared only about money and not at all about students, and this just confirms it. (Image courtesy of the Pac-12)
So that’s why I was appalled when I saw the full 2012 football schedule the Pac-12 Conference released earlier today. To summarize, here’s the Cardinal’s full 12-game schedule for next season:
Sept. 1: San Jose State
Sept. 8: Duke
Sept. 15: USC
Sept. 27: at Washington
Oct. 6: Arizona
Oct. 13: at Notre Dame
Oct. 20: at California
Oct. 27: Washington State
Nov. 3: at Colorado
Nov. 10: Oregon State
Nov. 17: at Oregon
Nov. 24: at UCLA
This schedule sucks and it’s extremely unfortunate that our athletic department didn’t try for something better. Let’s start with the fact that, out of Stanford’s six home games next season, three come before the start of fall quarter: San Jose State, Duke and USC. This is hugely unfortunate for two main reasons. Obviously, the vast majority of students won’t be able to attend any of these games; since next year will be my last on the Farm, I’m especially ticked off that I’ll get to see Stanford football in person a grand total of three times in a 12-game season. Nearly as important is the fact that USC is one of those games. Whenever the Trojans come to town, it’s always the biggest home game of the regular season and a guaranteed sellout, so it’s an incredible letdown that only a few of us will get to go to that one.
This year's Stanford-USC matchup was a triple-OT thriller. Too bad we won't get to see these teams play next year.
Next, let’s take a look at the three teams we will get to see at home: Arizona, Washington State and Oregon State. These three programs were at or near the bottom of the Pac-12 in 2011, and were three of the five conference teams that failed to earn bowl eligibility. Arizona and Washington State both ended up firing their coaches, and Oregon State’s top man enters the season on the conference’s hottest seat. While we’re probably not going to steamroll these teams the way we did this season, I’m not exactly excited to see games featuring some of the Pac-12′s cellar dwellers. As an addendum to all of this, five of our last seven games are on the road, meaning it’ll be tough for us to follow the team and put more pressure on the team to win road games late in the season.
Last but certainly not least, notice how the Big Game has been inexplicably moved up to mid-October, when it has traditionally taken place in late November (usually the Saturday before Thanksgiving). Big Game, and the week leading up to it, are among the most hallowed traditions both on the Farm and across the Bay at Cal; putting the game in mid-October messes everything up and makes Big Game highly anti-climactic.
The reason for all of these shenanigans is two letters: TV. The Pac-12′s scheduling priorities are dictated entirely by the conference’s television partners. The upshot is that every Pac-12 game will be available nationwide on television, which I guess is supposed to substitute for taking away our game day experience.