In 2012, Big Game was Oct. 20. USC played UCLA on Nov. 17. Neither game for four of the oldest members of the Pac-12 conference was the final game of the season for the teams involved. Neither game was played on its traditional weekend.
Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott plans to change that, starting with this season.
On Nov. 20, Stanford plays Notre Dame, Colorado plays Utah, Arizona State plays Arizona and USC plays UCLA.
On Friday, Nov. 29, Oregon State faces Oregon, and Washington State faces Washington.
All of those games are the season finales for the respective teams.
While the Bears and the Cardinal play on Nov. 23, the game is back at its original slot – the weekend before Thanksgiving, and also marks Cal's final game of the season, the way the football gods intended.
"Definitely one of the influences with a 14-week season, a 15-week season, Notre Dame plays Thanksgiving, Big Game not on Thanksgiving -- there's a lot of factors that go into that," Scott said on Saturday night at Haas Pavilion. "I've got proposals on the table that are going to be discussed with our AD's and other administrators to make some changes to our schedule so that we can always play the rivalry games the last two weeks of the season. Whether we can pull it off or not, I don't know."
Scott is determined to preserve the traditions of some of the older rivalries, chiefly Big Game, the playing of which on Oct. 20 this past season was a source of consternation for Cal fans and administrators.
"We always try to do it. I think it's history, tradition -- it's a great thing," Scott said. "I want to try to honor that as much as possible. I think it matters more to certain schools and certain rivalries than it does others."
Other rivalries, which do not have traditional dates -- notably the Civil War, the Apple Cup and the Territorial Cup -- are a bit more flexible in their timing, which could provide some wiggle room to ensure that the Big Game, for one, remains in its historical slot.
"Others are more relaxed about it, the date that they play, like Apple Cup, Civil War – I think Big Game's probably got more surrounding it, where the date maybe matters more to people than some other rivalries," Scott said.
While at Haas Pavilion on Saturday evening, Scott also discussed the marquee Thursday-night match-up slated for next season between Stanford and Oregon, once again expected to be the top two teams in the Pac-12 North.
"We consult with our broadcast partners before we do the schedule, and we've got eight Thursday-Friday games," Scott said, referring to UCLA-Utah (Oct. 3), Arizona-USC (Oct. 10), Arizona State-Washington State (Oct. 31), USC-Oregon State (Nov. 1), Oregon-Stanford (Nov. 7), Washington-UCLA (Nov. 15) and the Civil War and the Apple Cup (Nov. 29).
"We tried to give a mix of marquee games and make sure to spread the teams that are playing those weekday games, and it's one that ESPN really wanted for Thursday Night on ESPN," Scott said. "It just worked, in terms of schedules. There are other complications in the schedule -- if you play Thursday night, you have a bye the week before, so there's a lot that goes into it. This one just worked. We were able to give ESPN what they wanted. It's definitely one that people across the country are going to circle. It'll be interesting to see what type of rating we can pull."
Good Shooting, Mr. Scott
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