Washington’s 2012 schedule has finally been released in full. As a refresher, here it is:
Sept. 1 — San Diego State
Sept. 8 — at LSU
Sept. 15 — Portland State
Sept. 22 — Bye
Sept. 27 — Stanford
Oct. 6 — at Oregon
Oct. 13 — USC
Oct. 20 — at Arizona
Oct. 27 — Oregon State
Nov. 2 — at Cal
Nov. 10 — Utah
Nov. 17 — at Colorado
Nov. 23 — at Washington State
A couple more thoughts:
— There are three non-Saturday dates, and that is going to become the norm as the games are needed to fulfill the Pac-12’s promise of eight Thursday and Friday games to FOX and ESPN that were a centerpiece of the 12-year, roughly $3 billion TV contract that takes effect next season.
Each team has to agree to host an average of two non-Saturday games every three years over the life of the 12-year contract, which makes sense if you think about it numerically — 12 teams and eight games per year equals 24 games over a three-year period, or two per conference team.
That’s apparently, though, not a completely hard-and-fast rule — it could be one over one three-year period but then three over the next three-year period, etc., depending on how it all works out.
But the goal is that every school host an equal amount of non-Saturday games over the life of the TV contract. While there’s been some fan disgruntlement over the Friday Apple Cup this year, sounds as if the schools went along with it without much complaint, knowing they’ve got to agree to some of these along the way.
I surmise that UW was more than happy to have a non-Saturday game this year at CenturyLink, where the logistical issues are much less than on-campus at Husky Stadium. And I would imagine Washington will push as much as it can in the future to host those non-Saturday games early, before school starts if possible, to also lessen the logistical problems. It really doesn’t matter a whole lot on the road.
— In terms of the difficulty of the schedule, obviously the first half is a little eye-popping, with four of six games against teams that could end this year ranked in the Top 10, and three that likely will be heading into next season — LSU, Oregon and USC. It’s kind of the reverse of this year when UW started out 5-1 against a slate that included just one ranked team.
You can probably debate forever which is better — pocketing wins early against a lighter schedule and hoping to use that momentum to go strong into the tougher part of the schedule, or getting the tough ones out of the way early and then finishing fast and carrying momentum (hopefully) into the post-season. Ultimately, you’ve got to play all those teams at some point, and I’m sure that’s the approach the UW coaches and players will take.
Another seemingly tough part of the schedule for UW is that it will essentially be playing nine conference games in nine weeks without a bye, with its bye coming the week prior to the conference season. But the pros and cons of when your bye falls is another thing that can probably be debated forever, with enough evidence pointing to whichever side you like.
What can sometimes be a bigger deal is when the teams you play have their byes, theoretically allowing them more time to prepare and get well physically if they come the week before you play them. Both UW and Stanford are off the weekend before playing each other on a Thursday, so that’s a wash, and Cal and WSU also play the Saturday before playing the Huskies on a Friday, so that’s also a wash.
Just one team has a bye the week before playing UW on a Saturday — Arizona — which is off while the Huskies will have hosted USC.
As you think about all of this, best to remember again all the added money and exposure coming the Pac-12’s way, the reason it’s all happening in the first place.