The Pac-12 Thursday morning released the TV assignments and starting times for the first three weeks of the 2014 football season, as well as some selected games later, as “drafted” by its three affiliated TV entities — Fox, ESPN and the Pac-12 Networks.
Here’s the release:
Washington’s opener at Hawaii Aug. 30 is at 5 p.m. on the CBS Sports Network (that’s a Mountain West affiliate). The UW home opener Sept. 6 against Eastern Washington is at noon on Pac-12 Networks (noon? What’s this, back to the future?) and game No. 3 — Illinois at the UW Sept. 13 — is at 1 p.m. on Fox.
As the San Jose Mercury News reported last month, the league is trying to cut back on the number of night games by putting more Pac-12 Networks games in the early-afternoon slots — at the cost of some out-of-town fans hoping to see their team on Pac-12 Networks — and the early schedule would seem to reflect that. Of the 11 Pac-12 Networks games in the first three weeks, seven are at 2 p.m. or earlier.
Washington State opens at CenturyLink Field on Thursday, Aug. 28, at 7 p.m. on Fox Sports 1 against Rutgers, newly a Big Ten member. The Cougars go to Nevada for a 7:30 p.m. ESPN game the following week (Friday, Sept. 5), and in their first game in Pullman, book Portland State at 5 p.m. Sept. 13 on Pac-12 Networks.
As I indicated in an earlier post, there’s no Apple Cup starting time yet. The Cougars host the game Nov. 29, on a day that also includes the Civil War and the Notre Dame-USC game, in addition to BYU-California. Given that USC-Notre Dame usually occupies a 5 p.m. (PST) slot, I’d guess that it’s just a matter of seeing how the season unfolds among the Northwest teams and slotting them accordingly. The bad news for fans is, that means a possible wait until the six- or 12-day TV windows can be exercised.
A few of the other marquee games that the networks snapped up: USC at Stanford Sept. 6 is an ABC game at 12:30 p.m.; the same day, Michigan State at Oregon is a 3:30 p.m. Fox start; UCLA-Texas at Arlington Sept. 13 is a 5 p.m. Fox start; and Stanford at UCLA Nov. 28 — the day after Thanksgiving — is a 12:30 p.m. kick on ABC. No doubt that was one of the most coveted games, pitting what could be the two division leaders. The 2-2 split there seems to reflect that those were the four most appealing TV games that were up for grabs.