Seattle-area old-timers probably remember going to the old Wharf, Clark's, or Ivar's restaurants and having a paper place mat featuring future University of Washington football schedules. As a kid, it amazed me that the athletic department had everything scheduled ten or more years into the future.
The practice of scheduling games years into the future has taken a pause, or at least it has at the University of Washington. Here are a few universal factors that are influencing such practice:
- The expansion to a 12 game schedule.
- Creation of the BCS.
- The creation of two-division super-conferences.
- Eight game conference schedules by the super-conferences.
- Demands for home and away scheduling by non BCS schools.
- Demands for up to one million dollar appearance fees by non-BCS schools.
- Increased television coverage due to multiple channels on cable and satellite.
- The revenue advantages of the SEC driven by the CBS contract, huge stadiums, huge attendance, and a new multi-million dollar contract for the exclusive SEC channel.
Lets take a look a closer look at the challenges Washington (and all Pac-10 schools) is facing.
- A nine-game round robin schedule.
- Every other year each team has five conference road games.
- The Pac-10 does not have its own exclusive cable TV network.
- The Pac-10 is isolated on the west coast, so in comparison to a Big Ten or Big 12 team, they don't have as many scheduling options.
- Smaller stadiums and declining attendance.
Boiling this down, Washington will be playing some FCS schools in the near future. An FCS school won't demand a return game, and is more than happy to play for a decreased share of the revenue generated by the game. The difference can be as much as $750,000 compared with scheduling an Idaho (who isn't a drop in the bucket these days).
Eastern Washington or Portland State would be thrilled to have a $250,000 payday. The price to get Idaho into Husky stadium this season was $600,000. The current price for a future game is now between $750,000 to $1,000,000.
Washington is still going to play big-time schools every year. There will always be the Nebraska's, the Michigan's, LSU's, Notre Dame's, and other premier schools on the schedule. However, we aren't going to get two of them in one season anymore. There could be exceptions to that in the future, but not many. Let's face it: playing LSU and Notre Dame in the same year doesn't make much sense when Florida is playing Charleston Southern, Troy, Florida International, and Florida State.
Washington now has a firm schedule set for the next three years. Portland State isn't official as yet, but expect confirmation to come any day now.
Beginning in 2013, it gets pretty sketchy. The Huskies announced a home and away series with Hawaii with a game in Honolulu in 2013 and a return game at Husky Stadium in 2015. Athletic Director Scott Woodward also announced a home and away series for 2017 and 2018 with Wisconsin. Washington already has a contracted series with Colorado on the books for 2015 and 2016.
The Huskies have been rumored to also be in talks with Illinois for a home and away series, with 2013 and 2014 a logical fit for the both teams, as the Illini have only one non-conference game scheduled for those seasons.