Night falls on Pullman

AFTER THE Cougs’ fourth game of this season, when they host Oregon in a game slated to kick off at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 20, one can reasonably hope WSU will begin to see a healthy dose of day games. Why? One simple reason.

Washington State will then be the only Pac-12 school that will have played every one of their first four games with a start time of 5 p.m. or later. At some point the law of averages has to kick in, doesn't it?

Arizona and ASU are close, they too have a bunch of night games plus a 4 p.m. start in the first month -- but that is also by design. Those schools want to play later, at night, in the early part of the season in order to avoid the late summer heat. (The next seven days forecast shows an average high of 100 degrees in Tempe, 93 in Tucson.)

Everyone else in the Pac-12 has had at least one 12:30 or 3:30 game. Cal and Stanford have yet to even play a night game. But the Pac-12 is spreading things around. Oregon will play at least four games after 7 p.m. in 2014. More could be in the offing for the Ducks as the TV selections are made.

WSU has one more Friday game, at Stanford on Oct. 10. That one is slated for 6 p.m. So the Cougs will play at least five games this season with a start time of 5 p.m. or later. Last year, Oregon State protested loudly after playing seven games kicking off at 6 p.m. or later. How much of a difference does it make? On home games, the general consensus is not much. But road games at night, several Pac-12 coaches have noted in their press conferences over the past year-plus -- well, let’s just say they’re not a fan of ‘em.

The reality is that WSU and the other Pac-12 schools are going to play more night games than before. There’s no way around that with the TV contract and it's understandable they want to schedule games when more eyeballs are at home and to fill up their available programming time slots. And of course, the Thursday and Friday games are always going to be at night.

The change this season, in an effort to at least take a bit of a bite out of the number of night games, is the new 11 a.m. slot. The first such game takes place this Saturday when Wyoming plays at Oregon. The following Saturday, Hawaii plays at Colorado at 11 a.m.

All games shown in the 11 a.m. time slot will be carried by the Pac-12 Networks.

Will the Cougs play an 11 a.m. game this year? We’ll see, as the TV selections are made in the six- or 12-day TV windows throughout the season. But there should be more day games to come for Wazzu, given there will have been no day games at all over the first one-third of the season.

NOTABLE NOTE:
As long as we're talking about TV, why is it that 90 percent of the time the production trucks cut away from the postgame handshake so viewers never see the whole of interaction between winning and losing coaches, and sometimes never see any of it at all? The most interesting thing after the game, the only interesting thing, is that postgame handshake. Instead, the networks think we want to see players wandering around aimlessly? No, you won't get an upset Paul Petrino most weeks, but it's the only piece of potential drama left in the broadcast.

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