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O’Neil: The Huskies’ schedule is just too late, and that has nothing to do with night games

The timing of announcements for Huskies game times has become a thorn for UW fans. (AP)

The e-mail began with a request that every Washington fan would want fulfilled.

“Help us fill Husky Stadium.”

It was sent to Kyle, one of my roommates when we attended the University of Washington. Kyle’s name is still on the wall at Schultzy’s for his copious sausage consumption on the Wednesday just before Thanksgiving of our sophomore year, and he’s now living in Alaska and in charge of managing our four-seat block of season tickets. Being the civilized alums that we’ve become he responded:

From: Kyle S.
Sent: Thursday, September 28, 2017 9:01 AM
To: Washington Athletics
————————————-
I would love to help, but it is a consistent problem that the Pac-12 can’t announce start times earlier. I’d like to fly down for Oregon or UCLA, but can’t commit due to game time considerations. This is a common problem amongst many of my out-of-town friends. Even with announcements 12 days out, airline tickets are already prohibitively expensive outside the 14 day window. Would love to see this remedied soon.
Sincerely,
Season ticketholder since 2008
————————————–

Night games aren’t the problem with Washington’s football schedule. Or at least they’re not the biggest problem with the schedule.

Huard: Huskies still looking to establish No. 2 options vs Cal

The problem is that game times are left open until the last minute. OK. That’s an exaggeration, but not by much. Usually, it’s 12 days in advance, but in some cases — like this week’s game against Cal — the game time isn’t specified until six days out.

The reason is simple: cash. The Pac-12 took plenty of it in its most recent TV deal, and in doing so they surrendered control over the schedule at the expense of the local crowd.

So I appreciate Chris Petersen calling the late kickoffs painful this week. He’s right when he says that neither the coaches nor the administration want all these late games, the reality is that the conference rolled over for a big old fat sack of cash from the TV networks and the fans are the ones left not so much holding the bag as they’re holding on to the last minute before finding out what time the games will be.

Another member of our season-ticket quartet — who asked to be identified by Season Ticket Holder No. 2 — has a much more detailed example of the impact in his description of an imaginary conversation with the UW ticketing office:

Hello, UW grad here and UW season ticket holder living in Phoenix. I want to attend as many UW home games as possible. Can you tell me when the game is?

Saturday, but sometimes Thursday or occasionally Friday.

Can you tell me what time?

No.

Really?

OK maybe 12 days before. Unless FOX or ESPN is exercising a six-day option in which case the game time will be announced six days ahead of time.

That’s it?

Yes.

That seems inconvenient.

Just fly up for the whole weekend.

Oh that’s sound easy, especially with how cheap last-minute airfare is and how inexpensive hotels are in downtown Seattle.

Just reserve ahead of time.

Ever heard of change fees? But hey at least Alaska gives me a 10% discount off my full fare.

See that’s perfect.

It’s not perfect! It’s lame. It’s an easy one-night trip I’ve been making for two decades and I can’t just put life on hold waiting for a TV time to drop. It’s the purple helmet of scheduling.

When did UW have purple helmets?

Never mind.

You can always watch the game on Pac-12 North or one of our TV partners. We put all the games on at the same time so you can only see one.

True, it looks like the game is on P12N. Will I be able to see it on Pac12 Arizona?

Sorry, looks like you are out of luck. We’ll be showing a replay of an ASU practice from 1986 while there are live Pac-12 football games on.

Well there’s always basketball season. Oh wait.

At this point Season Ticket Holder No. 2 attached a picture of a Washington magnet schedule that he received back in 2000 that included all of the game times. That’s one more drawback of leaving kickoff times to be determined. We don’t get magnet schedules anymore.