Utah vs USC Starts at 9:00pm EST
Sitting at No.10 overall, Utah eyes its first college football playoff birth. It’s a great time to be a Utah fan. Their upcoming matchup is the Pac-12 South game of the year. Utah vs USC. No. 10 Utes vs the now-competitive Trojans. If Utah continues to win, they’ll surely rise up the ranks. But, Pac-12 scheduling set this game for Friday night. Will this night game hurt their national exposure? In a line of poor ideas and bad commissioning from Larry Scott, Utah’s late matchup harms both Utah and the Pac-12. The conference outsources it’s scheduling to a company in Colorado. Then the Pac-12 brass, school presidents, and athletic directors approve it.
The Problem with Night Games
Keep in mind, night games are not inherently a problem. Especially for east coast teams and viewers. But, on a Friday night, Pac-12 games can be extremely bothersome. For example, the Utah vs USC game starts at 6:00pm on the west coast. That’s not too bad. For those who get off work at 5:00, they can make it home by the first whistle.
However, that same time is 9:00pm for east coast viewers. It’s not rocket science to figure out why that is a bad idea. Because college football games last an average of 3 1/2 hours, they have to stay up past midnight to see how it ends. 12:30am, at the end of a workweek, to watch a Pac-12 rivalry game. Honestly, how many non-conference fans would commit to that for Pac-12 games? It undermines national exposure for the Pac-12 conference.
Even Chris Peterson agrees with this sentiment.
“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it,”Chris Petersen, 2017
Late games just get less eyes. From fans, from scouts and from the press. For a contending team like Utah, they need all the eyes they can get. But, because of Larry Scott and his ideas, he’s holding back the Pac-12. Again.
We Discuss the Friday Night games more on Pac-12 Apostles Podcast
Why Does Larry Scott Want Late Games?
“The reason we play almost a third of our games at night is that was a way to unlock significant value from television in our last negations,” Scott said. “ESPN and Fox placed a high value on us giving them a little more flexibility and being willing to play more night games.”Larry Scott
“We essentially extend their day,” Scott said. “We give them a whole other window of high-quality, highly rated games. … Playing more night games than we did in the past unlocked the kind of value our schools were looking for.”Larry Scott
To Larry Scott, the exclusivity of the late-night games are worth the pain. With more flexibility to play later, he claims to obtain “high value”. However, perhaps it is just a complete lack of leverage. Recall that Larry Scott deliberately put a wedge between major networks and the Pac-12. Betting on the Pac-12 Network to hit it big didn’t happen. Because every other power five conference has contracts with these networks, it leaves the Pac-12 to pick up the scraps. So, instead of putting the lower-ranked teams in the Friday night lights, Larry Scott and the Pac-12 schedulers put Utah.
For goodness sake, the Utah vs USC game deserves to get national exposure. The Utes deserve that. Does anyone think Roll Tide fans would stand for this? Of course not. If Larry Scott wants a Pac-12 program to make it to the college playoffs, he has to put steps in place for them to get there. Playing on Saturday, during the day, when everyone can view them, is best practice. But, then again, it’s unclear if Larry Scott actually knows what’s best for the Pac-12.