No Prime Time ABC games. No ESPN game until the end of September and to get that, USC has to play Washington State in the Palouse on a Friday night in a game that will kick off at 10:30 p.m. on the East Coast.
Hey, at least it won't conflict too much with the high school games there so if folks Back East want to get a look at that Sam Guy they're talking about for the Heisman by the fifth week of the season, at least they can catch him on the late night show. If they're allowed to stay up for the second half.
Someone out there really doesn't like USC, or doesn't really care much if they carry the Trojans -- apparently.
Another TV fail for the losing-ground Pac-12 in a September schedule so good the ESPN release today could barely contain itself. "Marquee Games from Every Conference Bolster ESPN's Early Season College Football Schedule" ESPN crowed.
Huh, we asked ourselves. With Fox taking both the USC-Stanford and USC-Texas games, we wondered how that could be with no USC. And there it was.
"Boise State at Washington State," ESPN actually wrote. And there it was. The national "marquee" game for the Pac-12 in an early season that USC fans hoped would cement the Trojans early on in the national consciousness will be watching only Washington State from the Pac-12 on ABC, ESPN or CBS.
And that Sam Guy? He'll be as invisible almost as the nation's top college basketball player, Washington's Markelle Fultz, was all of last season. that starts Week 1 when a Pac-12 that kneecapped Christian McCaffrey's Heisman shot two years by making him a late-night star will be at it again.
And USC gets to open against Western Michigan at 2:15 Saturday afternoon, Sept. 2, in what could be 100-degree heat (only time you'd rather not have an afternoon game in LA) on a Pac-12 Network in barely 15 million homes (compared to the 80-million plus on the ESPNs or even the 60 million plus for the Big Ten and SEC networks.
No question the Pac-12 would scoop up USC that day since the WMU Broncos look like the Monsters of the Midway when compared to the other four available opponents for Pac-12 schools -- Southern Utah, Portland State, Montana State and Northern Arizona. The only decent opponent for a Pac-12 team that day is North Carolina, which takes the Cal game over to the ACC Network.
Might we say this is a perfect Pac-12 start. OK, we will say it. Especially when compared against the games ESPN is touting. Starting with a Florida State team that may be one of the four or so USC will have to compete with to get into the CFB Playoffs. Although with an opener against Alabama and a Week 3 matchup against Miami, the Seminoles get off to as good a start as it's possible to do if you're looking for exposure.
Which is what great programs, smart programs, in smart, competitive conferences, do. Michigan-Florida in Arlington gets Sept. 2 going for ABC which follows with Florida State-Alabama at the Chick-Fil-A game at the new Mercedes-Benz Dome in Atlanta which just happens to be where the CFB Playoff championship game will be played. Hmmmm? Someone thinking ahead there. LSU vs, BYU in the AdvoCare Bowl in Houston closes out opening Saturday.
Week 2? Only one game matters. Oklahoma at Ohio State. Wonder where ESPN's College GameDay will head? So USC hosting Stanford in maybe the most meaningful conference game in the first two weeks of the entire 2017 season will happen in relative obscurity. Or worse.
That OSU-UO game will kick off at 4:30 on ABC right behind the 4 p.m. kick for Clemson-Auburn. USC-Stanford goes at 5:30 on Fox, head up against those two which will already have started. Not an ideal scenario.
But Week 3? USC against Texas? Doesn't that game have a chance? Probably not, not on Fox. No GameDay. ABC has Florida State (again) this time at Miami with a 5 p.m. West Coast kickoff, a half-hour before USC-Texas. And ESPN gets its day going with Notre Dame-Boston College before it gets Louisville-Clemson,
No decision yet, even from the Pac-12 people for the next week on USC at Cal, but the Trojans get back in the game, right, when they finally get on ESPN the next week? OK, as we said it's a Friday night and a 10:30 Eastern kick time. But beggars can't be choosers, to coin a phrase.
But here's the thing that should bother USC fans. The Trojans-Cougs will be the late-night second game following the prime time 7 p.m. kickoff for Duke-Miami. What, you expected something better?
And now here's another problem. Notre Dame Oct. 21 will be on NBC with a 4:30 West Coast kickoff time from South Bend and USC fans will have to pull for the Irish not to suck like last season so that game matters. After that, looking at the rest of a Pac-12 schedule without Washington or Oregon, this could be a long, media-free zone for the Trojans and Sam Darnold to get to the finish line without either Oregon or Washington on the schedule.
And with the Pac-12 Championship Game on Friday, Dec. 1, it's probably going to take a pair of unbeaten teams -- if Washington makes it -- to goose the ratings for that game.
So is there a bright spot here? Sure, this might be the first USC team that could ever get to the postseason with no one knowing almost anything about it. Or having seen it.
Under the radar, indeed. But then by definition, isn't that's what playing in the Pac-12 is all about?
2017 USC FOOTBALL SCHEDULE
Sept. 2 – Western Michigan – 2:15 p.m. PT (Pac-12 Network)
Sept. 9 – Stanford – 5:30 p.m. PT (FOX)
Sept. 16 – Texas – 5:30 p.m. PT (FOX)
Sept. 23 – at California
Sept. 29 (Fr.) – at Washington State – 7:30 p.m. PT (ESPN)
Oct. 7 – Oregon State
Oct. 14 – Utah
Oct. 21 – at Notre Dame – 7:30 p.m. ET (NBC)
Oct. 28 – at Arizona State
Nov. 4 – Arizona
Nov. 11 – at Colorado
Nov. 18 – UCLA
Here is the television schedule for the 2017 Pac-12 football season...
Date Game Time TV
OREGON STATE at Colorado State 1 p.m. MT CBSSN
STANFORD vs. Rice (1) 7 p.m. PT ESPN
Thurs., Aug. 31
North Dakota at UTAH 4:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
New Mexico State at ARIZONA STATE 7:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Fri., Sept. 1
WASHINGTON at Rutgers 8 p.m. ET FS1
Colorado State vs. COLORADO (1) 6 p.m. MT Pac-12 Network
Sat., Sept. 2
CALIFORNIA at North Carolina 12:20 p.m. ET ACC Network (syndication)
Portland State at OREGON STATE 11 a.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Western Michigan at USC 2:15 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Southern Utah at OREGON 5:15 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Montana State at WASHINGTON STATE 7:30 p.m. PT FS1
Northern Arizona at ARIZONA 8 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Sun., Sept. 3
Texas A&M at UCLA 4:30 p.m. PT FOX/FOX Deportes
Sat., Sept. 9
Texas State at COLORADO 12 noon MT Pac-12 Network
Nebraska at OREGON 1:30 p.m. PT FOX/FOX Deportes
Hawai’i at UCLA 2 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Weber State at CALIFORNIA 2 p.m. PT Pac-12 Bay Area
Montana at WASHINGTON 5 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
STANFORD at USC 5:30 p.m. PT FOX
Minnesota at OREGON STATE 7 p.m. PT FS1
UTAH at BYU 8:15 p.m. MT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Houston at ARIZONA 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
Boise State at WASHINGTON STATE 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN, ESPN2 or ESPNU
San Diego State at ARIZONA STATE 8 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Fri., Sept. 15
ARIZONA at UTEP 7:15 p.m. PT ESPN
Sat., Sept. 16
UCLA at Memphis 11 a.m. CT ABC/ESPN2 mirror
Northern Colorado at COLORADO 12 noon MT Pac-12 Network
OREGON STATE at WASHINGTON STATE 2:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
OREGON at Wyoming 5 p.m. MT CBSSN
ARIZONA STATE at Texas Tech 7 p.m. CT FSN
Texas at USC 5:30 p.m. PT FOX
Fresno State at WASHINGTON 6:30 p.m. PT Pac-12 Network
Mississippi at CALIFORNIA 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN
STANFORD at San Diego State 7:30 p.m. PT CBSSN
San Jose State at UTAH 8 p.m. MT ESPN2
Fri., Sept. 22
UTAH at ARIZONA 7:30 p.m. PT FS1
Sat., Sept. 23
OREGON at ARIZONA STATE
USC at CALIFORNIA
UCLA at STANFORD
WASHINGTON at COLORADO
Nevada at WASHINGTON STATE
Fri., Sept. 29
USC at WASHINGTON STATE 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN
Sat., Sept. 30
ARIZONA STATE at STANFORD
COLORADO at UCLA
CALIFORNIA at OREGON
WASHINGTON at OREGON STATE
Sat., Oct. 7
ARIZONA at COLORADO
OREGON STATE at USC
STANFORD at UTAH
WASHINGTON STATE at OREGON
CALIFORNIA at WASHINGTON
Fri., Oct. 13
WASHINGTON STATE at CALIFORNIA 7:30 p.m. PT ESPN
Sat., Oct. 14
UCLA at ARIZONA
WASHINGTON at ARIZONA STATE
UTAH at USC
COLORADO at OREGON STATE
OREGON at STANFORD
Sat., Oct. 21
ARIZONA at CALIFORNIA
ARIZONA STATE at UTAH
USC at Notre Dame 7:30 p.m. ET NBC
OREGON at UCLA
COLORADO at WASHINGTON STATE
Thurs., Oct. 26
STANFORD at OREGON STATE 6 p.m. PT ESPN
Sat., Oct. 28
WASHINGTON STATE at ARIZONA
USC at ARIZONA STATE
UCLA at WASHINGTON
CALIFORNIA at COLORADO
UTAH at OREGON
Fri. Nov. 3
UCLA at UTAH 7:30 p.m. MT FS1/FOX Deportes
Sat., Nov. 4
ARIZONA at USC
COLORADO at ARIZONA STATE
OREGON at WASHINGTON
OREGON STATE at CALIFORNIA
STANFORD at WASHINGTON STATE
Fri., Nov. 10
WASHINGTON at STANFORD 7:30 p.m. PT FS1/FOX Deportes
Sat., Nov. 11
OREGON STATE at ARIZONA
ARIZONA STATE at UCLA
USC at COLORADO
WASHINGTON STATE at UTAH
Sat., Nov. 18
ARIZONA at OREGON
ARIZONA STATE at OREGON STATE
UCLA at USC
UTAH at WASHINGTON
CALIFORNIA at STANFORD
Fri., Nov. 24
CALIFORNIA at UCLA 7:30 p.m. PT FS1/FOX Deportes
Sat., Nov. 25
ARIZONA at ARIZONA STATE
COLORADO at UTAH
OREGON STATE at OREGON TBD ESPN, ESPN2, ESPNU or ABC
WASHINGTON STATE at WASHINGTON
Notre Dame at STANFORD
STANFORD at WASHINGTON STATE
Fri., Dec. 1
Pac-12 Football Championship Game (3) TBD ESPN or ABC
(1) Allianz Stadium, Sydney, Australia (game is Sun., Aug. 27 in Sydney)
(2) Sports Authority Field at Mile High, Denver, Colo.
(3) Levi’s Stadium, Santa Clara, Calif.