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Sports - January 6, 2012

Stanford fans thrown for a loss by schedule

Cardinal football will visit Cal in midseason game on Oct. 20

by Rick Eymer

The Big Game hasn't always been the final game scheduled, but it was usually one of Stanford's final two games and played in November.

Well, scrap another tradition to television and the new economics of a 'Super Conference.'

The 115th Big Game will be played on Saturday, October 20 in Berkeley, continuing a stretch that will see the Cardinal play five of its last seven games on the road as the Pac-12 announced next year's football schedule on Wednesday.

"The October 20 date for Big Game is 2012 is certainly not our first choice but the conference is governed by the will of the majority and we have a duty to respect the outcome of the vote," Stanford Director of Athletics Bob Bowlsby said. "We will work with California and the Pac-12 Office to advocate for the Big Game and all rivalry games to be scheduled toward the end of the season in future years."

Stanford, which lost the Fiesta Bowl, 41-38, in overtime, will open the season with a home game against San Jose State on Sept. 1.

Duke (Sept. 8) and USC (Sept. 15) will follow the Spartans into Stanford Stadium in the ensuing weeks, giving the Cardinal three home games to open the season.

The Trojans will be playing at Stanford before the students arrive, another glitch in the schedule.

Following a bye week on Sept. 22, Stanford travels to Washington.

After Arizona visits Stanford Stadium on Oct. 6, the Cardinal resumes its long nonconference rivalry with Notre Dame in South Bend on Oct. 13.

Washington State will be at Stanford Stadium on Oct. 27, followed by a trip to Boulder on Nov. 3 for a game with Colorado.

After Stanford entertains Oregon State on Nov. 10, the Cardinal will face the Oregon Ducks in Eugene on Nov. 17.

Stanford will wrap up the regular season on Nov. 24 at UCLA.

The second annual Pac-12 Championship game will be played on Nov. 30 at the home field of the team with the best overall conference record.

"Very, very disappointing about Big Game," said Menlo School Athletic Director Craig Schoof, a Stanford alum. "Says so much about what college sports has become; tradition goes out the window for the all-mighty dollar. I will be interested to see how it 'feels' in October. Got to admit it has felt weird the last few years with a game after it as well, but in midseason just seems so wrong. Definitely going to take some of the specialness out of the event."

With the new ESPN and FOX media rights agreement as well as the launch of the Pac-12 Networks in August, every Pac-12 football game will be available to fans on a national clearance, eliminating regional distribution which was prevalent in the prior broadcast arrangements.

There will be 44 games on the combination of ESPN's family of networks, Fox Broadcast and FX, while 34 games are scheduled to air on the Pac-12 Networks. Exact broadcast schedules will be determined at a later date.

The schedule includes eight Thursday and Friday specialty dates for ESPN and FOX. Dates during the first two weeks of the non-conference schedule are still being adjusted to accommodate television commitments.

"The one thing we heard loud and clear from fans across the Conference is they want to see their teams play every week," Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. "Starting in 2012 fans can see all games throughout the country."

This decision, of course, doesn't sit well with a lot of Stanford alums.

"It's part of what I call 'the Development Complex,' where everything at the university has a price tag associated with it; the prime consideration is to increase the endowment, tradition be damned," said one alum, who wished to remain anonymous. "This is an arms race, and if Stanford wants to keep hoisting the Directors' Cup each June, then it will keep making decisions based on what's best for the bottom line, because we are not competing with Harvard ($20 billion endowment) but with Nike (Oregon), Dreamworks (USC) and Mesa Petroleum (Oklahoma State).

"It is yet another step in the ultimate takeover of college athletics by Big Money. When was the last time an Athletic Director said "no" to TV exposure (and the payday that comes with it)? Can't have a football playoff because it will cut into class time? Then what about March Madness? Playing college football games at night, on Thursdays or Mondays, completely disregards the feelings of the players, the alumni, and the potential fans (how many young kids did you see in the Big Game in the 2nd half?). Rivalries? Who cares when there is more money to be made (to support all the Assistant-Associate-Junior-Vice-Deputy-Directors of Athletics, and to build the buildings to house them).

"The original Pac 8 turns into the Pac-10 and then becomes the Pac-12, signs a lucrative new media deal — even creates its own network! — and yet there will always be sports on the bubble for being cut because there isn't enough



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