Frustrated by the Pac-12’s late, late kickoffs? You’re not the only one

UW coach Chris Petersen apologizes to fans for the after-dark kickoffs, calling them “painful” for all involved.

Late kickoffs are the new normal in the Pac-12 Conference. They’re not even new, really. This is the sixth football season Pac-12 teams have played under the conference’s 12-year, $3-billion television rights deal with ESPN and FOX, which have regular slots each Saturday night that need to be filled by Pac-12 football programming.

And yet six seasons into this after-dark relationship, the challenges for just about everyone involved seem as painful as ever.

At least, that’s the word — painful — that Washington coach Chris Petersen used Monday to describe his feelings heading into back-to-back 7:45 p.m. start times for his team over the next two Saturdays.

“I just want to say something to our fans: We apologize for these late games,” Petersen said. “And I’d also like to reiterate it has nothing to do with us or the administration. We want to play at 1 o’clock. It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it.

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“We haven’t had a kickoff before 5 o’clock this season. And so it’s painful for our team, it’s painful for our administration and we know certainly the most important part is for our fans.”

The No. 6 Huskies (5-0, 2-0 Pac-12) host California for a 7:45 p.m. kickoff Saturday on ESPN. They’ll then head to Tempe for a 7:45 p.m. against Arizona State on Oct. 14.

Washington is hardly the only school in the conference playing regularly after dark — Stanford has a 7:15 p.m. kick this weekend, and then an 8 o’clock start next week — and the Pac-12, certainly, has heard of the continued cries from frustrated fans.

It’s just, well, this is what the conference and all 12 member schools signed up for when they sold their TV rights. As a…

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