The 2020 Football Schedule: Opportunities Abound
The Hotline has long believed that schedule reveals, if handled properly, can be big deals — opportunities for the Pac-12 to promote teams and players, engage fans and generate headlines.
This season, that goes quadruple.
The Pac-12 will disclose version 3.0 of the 2020 football schedule sometime this week.
We know the seven-game season starts on the weekend of Nov. 6-7 and ends on the weekend of Dec. 18-19.
We know there will be games on Fridays (but not Thursdays) and that the Saturday kickoff times will be released, as usual, six or 12 days in advance.
We know the intrigue resides with the one crossover matchup.
Here’s what we don’t know:
Exactly when the schedule will be released and whether the conference will treat the matter like an event to be promoted.
(The Hotline has argued in the past for the unveiling to occur in early December of the previous year as part of a week-long Pac-12 PR blitz.)
However the Pac-12, ESPN and Fox settle on the broadcast windows, the conference would be well served by pushing for early and late start times.
Fans are prohibited, so kickoffs at 9 a.m. PT/10 a.m. MT won’t inconvenience ticket holders who live hours from the stadium and/or enjoy the tailgating experience.
We suggested the early kickoffs in June ’19 because of the opportunity for national exposure. In particular, the Big Noon Kickoff on the FOX broadcast network gives the conference access to an audience it wouldn’t otherwise reach.
Because stadium capacity will be limited across the country, there will be tens of thousands of additional sets of eyeballs available for the Big Noon game.
The other end of the broadcast spectrum — the 7 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. PT windows — is equally appealing for the conference without the worry of inconveniencing fans.
Never has #Pac12AfterDark been more valuable than it is this season.
Throughout September, fans and media have bemoaned the absence of night kickoffs on the west coast. Once the late afternoon games conclude, there’s nothing to watch.
Our assumption is that ratings for #Pac12AfterDark will jump in 2020 compared to previous years.
Absence makes the college football fix grow stronger, after all.
Naturally, there will be an assortment of Pac-12 games with afternoon kickoffs and, we assume, a bevy of matchups on the Pac-12 Networks.
But given the unprecedented course of the season, the thirst for Pac-12 games and the options made more manageable without fans, the conference needs to maximize its opportunities.
That process should start with the schedule reveal this week and continue for seven Saturdays, from 9 a.m. all the way through #Pac12AfterDark. — Jon Wilner