If the NFL lockout extends beyond Labor Day and regular season games are canceled, football fans may have something else to do on Sundays: Watch college football instead.
Although there are no concrete plans to play any major college football games on Sundays in the fall, the TV networks would surely be open to it if the NFL cancels some of its games. And Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says he’s at least thinking about the possibility that moving a Saturday game to Sunday could give his newly expanded conference more exposure in September.
“We certainly are monitoring the situation,” Scott told Rivals.com. “We have no plans in place at this time, but you want to be prepared and consider all options. Still, these labor situations have a way of getting done the closer they get to a critical situation.”
There are already a handful of college football games played on Sundays, but those games usually involve smaller programs. A major college football conference like the Pac-12 playing on Sunday would represent a significant shift in the college football landscape.
The biggest problem with moving games to Sunday during the lockout is that there wouldn’t be much time to get it done: The NFL likely wouldn’t call off Week One of the regular season unless the lockout is still going in late August. So if the Pac-12 wants to move one of its games from Saturday, September 10 to Sunday, September 11 (which is supposed to be the first Sunday of the NFL season) it would only know that date is available about two or three weeks in advance.
But the TV networks would likely make it worth the Pac-12’s while to make it work. One of the games scheduled for Saturday, September 10 is Utah at USC, a great game with a new Pac-12 member taking on the conference’s marquee program. If that game were the only football available on a Sunday when fans were hoping to sit around watching NFL games all day, it would draw huge ratings.
Although some college fans would be annoyed by having their plans for attending a Saturday game shifted to Sunday, most of those fans would adjust their schedules. And plenty of fans would be thrilled that college football was giving them something to watch on Sundays. Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne noted that college football was long viewed as a sport exclusively for Saturdays, but that fans have now come to embrace Thursday night games.
“Thursday night football hasn’t been around forever, and we adjusted to that,” Byrne said. “Sunday is a day a lot of people look to watch football. You would get good exposure.”
Autumn Sundays just aren’t complete without football. If the NFL can’t get a deal done, the NCAA should fill the void.