The Times has confirmed tonight that the 2012 Apple Cup will be played in Pullman on the Friday after Thanksgiving.
Bud Withers has the story here, noting that WSU athletic director Bill Moos talked about the date during a pre-game luncheon today in Pullman.
The date is noteworthy for a couple of reasons:
1, There had been some rumors that Pac-12 rivalry games would have to move off their traditional end-of-season dates. But for now, that won’t be happening to the Apple Cup (the potential moving of rivalry games is being forced in part to accomodate annual games Notre Dame has with USC and Stanford. For now, sounds like only one of those schools may be impacted).
2, Playing the game the day after Thanksgiving in Pullman will be a new thing for the Apple Cup. The game had traditionally been played the Saturday before Thanksgiving until 2007, when for the first time in about three decades it was moved to the Saturday afterward, a game that was played in Seattle.
Last year’s game was held on the first Saturday in December in Pullman, a full week after Thanksgiving, a move made in part to create byes in the schedules for both the Huskies and Cougars.
Playing it the Friday after Thanksgiving will obviously change the atmosphere and logistics of the game — fans may well have to travel on the Holiday to get there (there’s no kickoff time yet). Also, WSU students are given that week off and who knows how many will return on that Friday.
But the Pac-12’s new TV deal is forcing schools to have to be more flexible with their schedules — all schools will have to agree to play some games on Thursday and Fridays as part of the new deal, which goes into effect next year.
Also a part of this equation is the new Pac-12 conference title game, which will be played on the first weekend of December, meaning the regular season has to end the last weekend of November.
This year’s Apple Cup will be next Saturday at CenturyLink Field in Seattle.
The full 2012 Pac-12 conference schedule will likely be released next week, and don’t be surprised to see another UW game or two played on a Thursday or Friday night — as noted, all schools have to agree to play some as part of the TV contract so everyone is likely to be involved either as a home or visiting team.
UW’s non-conference games for 2012 are set and won’t change — home games with San Diego State and Portland State sandwiching a trip to LSU.