A Civil War in December? And on Thursday?

THE OFFICIAL OSU WEBSITE lists the Civil War for the last Saturday in November but according to reports, the game has been changed to a Thursday night tilt -- in December. The move would give both teams extra days to prepare and a guaranteed payday on ESPN, with less Pac-10 competition to face for television monies. But there are also inherent difficulties associated with Thursday night games.

In a nutshell, it's just plain easier for most fans, alumni and students to incorporate a "Football Saturday" into their life than it is to attend or watch games on Thursday nights. For purists, there's also the sense that college football was meant to be played on Saturdays.

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And over the years, for many in the Beaver Nation, OSU football gamedays in the fall have become an all day event on Saturdays.

A good deal of that gets lost when games are played on Thursday nights.

There's work, or class, the day of the game when it's played on Thursday night. There's work, or class, the day after the game. In effect, the Beaver football experience shrinks from a full day and evening down to about 4 hours when it comes to Thursday night contests.

BUT THE GUARANTEED payday -- now -- for this 2009 Civil War was apparently too attractive to pass up, and for both schools.

The move also gives the Ducks a bye headed into the Civil War they didn't have previously, and it allows the Beavs and Ducks each a second bye in their 12-game schedules. For the Beavs, they moved the WSU game to Nov. 21 and will have their first bye week on Oct. 17.

Oregon requested the move last week and Oregon State, who had the final say, apparently agreed today to play the Civil War on Thursday, Dec. 3, at 6 p.m. in Eugene, with the guaranteed financial payday the deciding factor.

OSU ACCORDING TO the Gazette Times earned $307,451 per for the two Thursday night games on ESPN/ESPN2 against Stanford and USC this past season -- about the same amount for FSN and ABC Regional games this season, (not including FSN-NW only broadcasts).

OSU 2009 SCHEDULE
09/05/09 vs. Portland State, HOME
09/12/09 vs.  UNLV @Las Vegas
09/19/09 vs. Cincinnati HOME
09/26/09 vs. Arizona HOME
10/03/09 vs. Arizona State @Tempe
10/10/09 vs. Stanford HOME
10/17/09 ...   BYE
10/24/09 vs. USC @Los Angeles
10/31/09 vs. UCLA (Homecoming) HOME
11/07/09 vs. California @Berkeley
11/14/09 vs. Washington HOME
11/21/09 vs. WSU @Pullman
 
12/03/09 vs. Oregon @Eugene 6 pm


But UO and OSU officials may have had, according to an article in Oregonian, real concerns that steep Pac-10 competition on the Nov. 28 date -- Arizona at Arizona State, UCLA at USC and Washington State at Washington are all scheduled to play that weekend -- meant the Civil War was running the risk of not securing the same kind of advantageous TV payday or even one at all. It's something that wouldn't have been known for a while -- ABC pre-selected games in May last season, while games on FSN and Versus were not scheduled until June.

Last year's Civil War was televised on Versus, as were the Utah, UW and Arizona games, for which Oregon State received $303,158 per. Versus telecasts around 10 games a season from the Pac-10 and Big 12 conferences.

OREGON STATE IS in a challenging spot. On one hand, they need to be able to compete in an ever-competitive Pac-10 arms race -- they need to maximize revenue, and to spend wisely. On the other, there was already grumbling coming from a segment of fans on the high cost of ticket prices. And Thursday night games aren't going to placate that crowd.

The USC game on Thursday this year, arguably the game of the year in the Pac-10, did not sell out. Single game tickets to USC and Oregon were priced at $75, more than double the $36 for single game tickets to Hawaii, ASU, WSU and Cal.

Later in the season, there were games where only $250 Club seats remained, and those seats were $350 for the Oregon game. In any economy, that's a tough sell and $250 - $350, that buys a lot of food and textbooks.

Bob De Carolis has since 2002 helped eliminate a deficit, grown the overall athletics budget and spearheaded the expansion and renovation of Reser Stadium, including the Sports Performance Center. There have been at least $115 million in improvements to the football facilities under his watch. That money has to come from somewhere.

De Carolis also acted quickly to secure a contract extension for Mike Riley when the annual coaching carousel revved up and Riley's name began to make the rounds.

BEYOND THE financials or anything else, for some it will come down to simply this -- OSU has a bye week heading into the 2009 Civil War and Oregon did not, exactly the opposite scenario of 2008. By agreeing to move the game to the following Thursday night, OSU gave up that advantage.

Oregon State did secure a guaranteed $300K or so by moving the game to Thursday, that point you can't argue. But by agreeing to move to Thursday, in December, OSU also gave Oregon exactly what they wanted.

When you're talking about your rival, that's also a tough sell for the faithful.


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