Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott has accomplished a lot of great things in the very short time that he has been in office.
First, he expanded the conference by adding the Colorado Buffaloes and the Utah Utes into the mix. Next, he split the conference into North and South divisions, and in the process added a highly-sought after Pac-12 Championship Game to the schedule.
The Pac-12 television deal with ESPN and Fox was the next logical step for Scott and the conference. As part of the $2.7 billion deal, the Pac-12 agreed to play more of their games in primetime. The only sacrifice they had to make? Many of those primetime games are slated for Thursday and Friday nights.
In this upcoming season, ASU and the University of Arizona have four games scheduled for national television on Thursday or Friday nights this fall. Another game, the Sun Devils' home opener against UC-Davis, is on a Thursday night but will not be nationally televised.
Let me start by saying I'm a huge advocate for the Pac-12 being given the recognition it deserves as a power conference in the college football landscape. A big part of winning over the media is to expose the entire country to our brand on a consistent basis, and this television deal will do an excellent job of that.
The only problem? We're risking a big part of the college gameday experience by playing these games on non-traditional days. Season ticket holders across the nation use fall Saturdays to relax at a tailgate, communing with friends and fans in parking lots before gametime.
When you move a game to Thursday night, you remove that from the equation. Instead of making a college football game a daylong affair, you minimize the event to a 3-4 hour window of time during a work week.
Does anyone really enjoy leaving a football game at 11:00 at night, especially when they have to wake up at 6:30 the next morning?
Frankly, this point is moot. College football is increasingly focused on the almighty dollar, and revenue for the conference is far more important than leaving this Saturday tradition completely intact.
One thing I know for sure: we better enjoy Saturday tailgates while we can, because there is going to be less of them if ratings are good for Thursday and Friday night contests.