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College games on Friday nights could divide Southern California

The Pac-12 releases TV plans for the 2013 football season that include games for UCLA and USC on Fridays, nights typically reserved for high school football.

June 02, 2013|Eric Sondheimer
  • Pac12 Commissioner Larry Scott talks during the Pac12 NCAA college football media day.
Pac12 Commissioner Larry Scott talks during the Pac12 NCAA college football… (Reed Saxon / Associated…)

In its never-ending quest for more money and more TV exposure, the Pac-12 Conference is taking dead aim at something that used to be considered unfathomable — playing college football on Friday nights.

The commissioner, Larry Scott, gave ample warning.

In 2009, he met with the top high school sports bosses from the West and told them of his plans. Roger Bake, then the second in command of the California Interscholastic Federation, the state's governing body of high school athletics, remembers that concerns were expressed.

And concerns were clearly ignored, because the Pac-12 released TV plans for the 2013 football season last week, and there's UCLA playing Washington on Friday, Nov. 15, at the Rose Bowl, the same night the Southern Section and City Section football teams open the playoffs.

USC gets to play its Friday night game on the road against Oregon State on Nov. 1. Both the UCLA and USC games are 6:00 starts for ESPN2.

Infringing on a night where high school football is played throughout the country is just another erosion of the neighborhood game. In Southern California, it's going to divide loyalties, create traffic nightmares and lead to further disillusionment about what college athletics is supposed to be about.

High school sports teams can't take a whole lot of hits in the financial department. Many programs are barely afloat. And playing college football on a Friday night will affect teams and communities.

"Yeah, it's going to hurt local gate," said Southern Section marketing director John Costello.

But this is life under the Pac-12's lucrative TV deal with all its corporate partners. The only question is how many Friday night games will there be in the future. Games are already being played on Thursday nights.

Of course, there's always the possibility of a backlash. Maybe the Pac-12 will learn that playing college football on a Friday night in Los Angeles is not a good way to attract traffic-exhausted fans to the Coliseum or the Rose Bowl. Maybe fans from Mission Viejo to Westlake will choose their neighborhood football team over USC or UCLA. Or maybe not.

There's nothing wrong with giving people choices, but be careful of the consequences.

Sir Phil Bickford

Fans of Westlake Village Oaks Christian senior Phil Bickford probably think he deserves knighthood after his pitching performance Saturday night at UC Riverside.

He struck out 18 batters, including the final 11 in a row, in Oaks Christian's 4-0 win over Pico Rivera El Rancho to give the Lions their first Southern Section Division 4 baseball championship. He gave up an infield single for the only hit of the game.

"It was incredible," said Coach Tim Penprase. "He had been waiting for that game the last four years, and he made the most of it."

Bickford (12-1) is expected to be a first-round pick in Thursday's amateur draft.

Summer plans

One of the best summer seven-on-seven passing tournaments is set for Saturday at Dana Hills High in Dana Point.

Upland, Newhall Hart, Mission Hills Alemany, Santa Ana Mater Dei, Santa Margarita, Long Beach Poly, Harbor City Narbonne, Ventura St. Bonaventure and Oaks Christian are among the teams competing. Action begins at 9 a.m.

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