College football in the Bay Area features a lot of unknowns for 2013. Will Stanford be good enough to return to the Rose Bowl without quarterback Josh Nunes? Can Cal’s new head coach reverse course and get the Bears back to winning? San Jose State also has a new head coach and a new conference. Can he keep their win streak going against a new slew of opponents?
But there are also a lot of questions surrounding the TV schedules for these three, in particular the starting times for Stanford and Cal.
If you look at their schedules, you’ll see TBA listed for all contests on or after September 21, with the exception of Stanford’s Thursday night tilt hosting Oregon on November 7. This is a direct result of the Pac-12’s TV contracts with ESPN and Fox. Each gets to wait and see how each squad is doing before selecting that week’s contest, ensuring that the best matchups are on their national TV platforms.
But it plays havoc with fans trying to make plans to attend the games in person. Will Stanford be good enough to be on Fox at 4 p.m. or ABC at 5 p.m.? Will Cal continue to be so bad, it’ll only be on the Pac-12 Network by default, and therefore be relegated to time slots outside ABC and Fox’s primetime windows?
Who knows. But here’s what we do know: The Cardinal will host the Spartans this Saturday night at 8 on the Pac-12 Network, will travel to Army next Saturday morning for a 9 a.m. kickoff on CBS Sports Network, has the aforementioned Thursday 6 p.m. home tilt on ESPN November 7, and will wrap the regular season hosting its annual clash with Notre Dame on either Fox or Fox Sports 1 on November 30.
Meanwhile Cal, already in trouble after an opening-day loss to Northwestern, hosts Portland State this Saturday at 2 on Pac-12, and then hosts Ohio State next week at 4 on Fox. After a probably much-needed week off, the Bears will then travel to Eugene on the 28th for a matchup with the Ducks on Pac-12, but the kickoff is still up in the air.
Everything else is TBA so you’ll have to stay tuned.
For San Jose State, it’s a different story. All their start times are set except for a November 16 visit to Nevada, which will air on some ESPN network to be determined. For the Spartans, who are now in the Mountain West Conference, it’s about whether or not they’ll be as good as last year against some different opponents.
After the already-mentioned visit to Stanford this week, the Spartans have three matchups on one of the ESPN outlets, another three on CBS Sports Network, and one on the Mountain West Network, which is its online platform. Another three are still undetermined, including a visit to Minnesota on the 21st, Hawai’i on October 5, and the Spartans homecoming game on October 26 against Wyoming, which will air on Root Sports in the Rocky Mountain area but is still in need of an outlet here.
The Military Bowl winners only have five remaining home games but at least their fans know when to show up.
Thanks to the Pac-12’s new TV deals, there will be more money pouring into Stanford and Cal’s coffers. You just won’t know when the games are happening until the week before. That’s how it goes when you dance with the devil.