After looking back at what the Pac-12 2011 schedule was like, I decided to spend a day figuring out what the Pac-12 2012 schedule would look like. Considering this is pretty much like a mock draft, I figured I'd aim for the spot of Biggest Internet Loser and try to make sense of what the 2012 schedule would look like.
Clearly this is not going to be 100% accurate, or 50% accurate, or 5% accurate. This is just to provide you all with an idea of how the scheduling process will work this year. With the Pac-12 Network getting a boatload of picks, you figure that a lot of games will be up for grabs.
- FOX has eight games. Four of them will be in primetime.
- F/X (FOX's cable partner) has 14 games.
- ABC (ESPN's national distributor) has two games.
- The ESPN family of networks has 20 games. As many as four can be on ESPNU, another four can be on Thursday night, another four can be on Friday night.
- The Pac-12 Network has all the remaining games.
- There will be a rotating draft each week of which network picks first. So the Pac-12 Network could pick first one week, then ESPN, then FOX, and then it'd switch up. All we know up to this point is the Pac-12 Network has first dibs the second and fourth week, so we'll be making some presumptions for this projection.
Provisions for the schedule:
- We're going to imagine that ESPN and FOX will not run games from their conference arrangements to run concurrently. So ESPN and FOX will have exclusive windows (i.e. either FOX or ESPN will take the noon/12:30 PM PT window, one of them will take the late afternoon 4-5 PM PT window, one of them will take the evening 7-7:30 PM PT window).
- ESPN/ESPN2 will generally broadcast all their Pac-12 Saturday games late night, so around 7:15-7:30 PM PT/10:15-10:30 PM PT. ESPNU will probably be a little bit more flexible. Thus most of FOX and FX's windows will probably be during the early afternoon/late afternoon spots
- The Pac-12 appears to be committed to ensuring that the network will not broadcast games simultaneously. So there will be up to three games a Saturday on the network--from noon to 12:30 PM PT, then from 3:30 to 4 PM PT, then from 7 to 7:30 PM PT.
- If there are a limited amount of TV windows (there appear to be about six per week, as FOX and ESPN will have up to a combined three and the Pac-12 Network should have up to three), then the conference could explore moving games to Thursday and Friday night.
- There are four games that are protected by the big networks. I can safely guess that Notre Dame vs. USC (the highest-rated Pac-12 game every year) and Oregon vs. USC (the presumptive Pac-12 championship preview) are two of those games. I went ahead and presumed that Oregon vs. Stanford (the Pac-12 North preview) and USC vs. Stanford (just a guess, no idea what this game might be yet) are the other two.
- The Pac-12 TV contract does not include road out-of-conference games. Washington State vs. BYU is not part of the Pac-12 contract.
Finally, some presumptions when deciding who gets picked first or second.
1) Every week, expect the USC and/or Oregon game to be picked somewhere in the top two unless they're playing absolute duds.
2) I'm not sure exactly how the draft works after the first three picks and whether it rotates around. I'm going to presume that after the first three picks, ESPN/FOX can decide whether they want to take on any additional games that week and the rest will be distributed to the Pac-12 Network.
This is why none of this means anything, but when I get an idea in my head, it must be ejected.
Weeks 1 and 2 are going to be the hardest weeks to project, as there will be multiple games.
To the Mock!
Your current schedule
Northern Colorado at Utah (Thursday)
Nicholls State at Oregon State
Northern Arizona at Arizona State
San Diego State at Washington
Hawaii at USC
Arkansas State at Oregon
Nevada at California
San Jose State at Stanford
Toledo at Arizona
Assumption of draft order: ESPN, Pac-12 (known), FOX
1) Hawaii at USC: It's USC.
2) Nevada at California: Cal returns to Memorial Stadium and plays a top-notch WAC opponent. The best of a weak slate for the Pac-12 Network to scoop up for opening week.
3) San Diego State at Washington. Yikes. This is the third game? FOX will probably dish it off to F/X.
4) Everything else is meh. Pac-12 Network for you all!
Now, you can see the issue. We still have six games left to fill into three time slots (thankfully Northern Colorado plays Utah on Thursday). That means we have to scatter three more games across the week.
Colorado State and Colorado have played on Sunday before, so that's a possibility to put there. Stanford is still out of session, so you think their game could be moved up during the week without much complaint. Finally, let's put Arizona State in the Friday night slot.
So you'd have a schedule like...
|Thursday, August 30th||Time
|Northern Colorado at Utah||4:30 PM||Salt Lake City, Utah||P12 Net|
|San Jose State at Stanford||7:45 PM||Stanford, Calif.||P12 Net|
|Friday, August 31st|
|Northern Arizona at Arizona St.||6:00 PM||Tempe, Ariz.||P12 Net|
|Saturday, September 1st|
|San Diego State at Washington||12:30 PM||Seattle, Wash.||F/X|
|Hawai'i at USC||7:15 PM||Los Angeles, Calif.||ESPN|
|Arkansas State at Oregon||noon||Eugene, Ore.||P12 Net|
|Nevada at California||3:45 PM||Berkeley, Calif.||P12 Net|
|Nicholls St. at Oregon St.||7:30 PM||Corvallis, Ore.||P12 Net|
|Sunday, September 2nd|
|Colorado State at Colorado||12:30 PM||Denver, Colo.||P12 Net|
Duke at Stanford
Eastern Washington at Washington State
Fresno State at Oregon
Illinois at Arizona State
Sacramento State at Colorado
Southern Utah at California
Wisconsin at Oregon State
Assumption of draft order: Pac-12 (known), FOX, ESPN
This is a good slate of games.
The Pac-12 Network will have the first pick, and it feels like Nebraska vs. UCLA (based on major markets and college names) will be the first spot. I suspect FOX would have taken the Oklahoma State at Arizona game if they weren't forced to take a late night slot (Arizona won't play earlier than 7:00 at home in the desert). So they'll probably grab the Wisconsin-Oregon State game next up. Finally, ESPN takes the Oklahoma State vs. Arizona game, which is prefect for the their time slot.
The Pac-12 will then take Illinois vs. Arizona State and move the game to Friday night because they're the only ones who can take them; F/X won't take a night game because Oklahoma State-Arizona already has the Saturday night ESPN slot. F/X will scoop up Fresno State vs. Oregon because it's the Ducks (how'd they fall this far?), Stanford and Duke play on ESPNU at some time, and the rest filter to the Pac-12 Network.
I think the Pac-12 Network will try and move the Nebraska-UCLA or Illinois-Arizona State game to Friday night, mainly because UCLA played a Thursday night game the week before and they can be flexible with the schedule. Nebraska might be a little miffed at that though.
|Thursday, September 6th||Time
|E. Washington at Washington St.||7:00 PM||Pullman, Wash.||P12 Net|
|Friday, September 7th|
|Nebraska at UCLA||7:00 PM||Pasadena, Calif.||P12 Net|
|Saturday, September 8th|
|Fresno St. at Oregon||12:30 PM||Eugene, Ore.||F/X|
|Wisconsin at Oregon St.||4:00 PM||Corvallis, Ore.||F/X|
|Duke at Stanford||7:00 PM||Stanford, Calif.||ESPNU|
|Sacramento St. at Colorado||11:00 AM||Boulder, Colo.||P12 Net|
|Southern Utah at California||3:00 PM||Berkeley, Calif.||P12 Net|
|Illinois at Arizona St.||7:00 PM||Tempe, Ariz.||P12 Net|
|Oklahoma State at Arizona||7:15 PM||Tucson, Ariz.||ESPN|
After that, things get a lot less interesting.
USC at Stanford
BYU at Utah
Houston at UCLA
Portland State at Washington
S.C. State at Arizona
Tennessee Tech at Oregon
Assumption of draft order: Fox, ESPN, Pac-12
I'm guessing the Pac-12 Network falls back in the pecking order this week, and they get probably their worst triple-header of the year. FOX will scoop up the biggest game of September in USC-Stanford for primetime, ESPN picks up the Holy War.
There'll be one extra game for the Pac-12 Network to take for the four time slots among the cupcake games.
|Friday, September 14th||Time
|Tennessee Tech at Oregon||6:00 PM||Eugene, Ore.||P12 Net|
|Saturday, September 15th|
|USC at Stanford*||5:00 PM||Stanford, Calif.||FOX|
|BYU at Utah||7:15 PM||Salt Lake City, Utah||ESPN|
|Houston at UCLA||noon||Pasadena, Calif.||P12 Net|
|Portland St. at Washington||3:30 PM||Seattle, Wash.||P12 Net|
|S.C. State at Arizona||7:00 PM||Tucson, Ariz.||P12 Net|
More of the mock schedule in the upcoming days.