UW will move UCLA game to Thursday, Nov. 18, on ESPN
The game had originally been slated for Saturday, Nov. 13. It will kick off at 5 p.m. on ESPN. The UCLA game could have significant national appeal as it will be the final UW home appearance for Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, who some think could be the top pick in the 2011 NFL draft and is also a favorite for the Heisman Trophy next season.
Seattle Times staff reporter
Latest from the Husky Football & Basketball blogs
In a move they hope will shine an added national spotlight on a season they hope puts them back on the college football map, the Washington Huskies will announce Monday that their home game against UCLA will be moved to Thursday, Nov. 18, so it can be nationally televised on ESPN.
Sources confirmed the news Sunday.
The game had originally been slated for Saturday, Nov. 13.
It will kick off at 5 p.m. and will be the first home UW game has not played on a Saturday since a contest against Fresno State played on a Sunday in 2004. The last time it played on a non-Saturday was a 2007 game at Syracuse on a Friday night. Previous to those two games, the last non-Saturday game was 1999 against Brigham Young.
Washington has called a news conference for noon Monday to make the announcement.
It will be the first Thursday night game at UW since 1939, and the first time UW has played on a Thursday since the Pac-10 began playing regularly on that day as part of its contract with ESPN. This will be the seventh Thursday night home game for a Pac-10 game on ESPN.
The UCLA game could have some significant national appeal as it will be the final UW home appearance for Huskies quarterback Jake Locker, who some think could be the top pick in the 2011 NFL draft and is also a favorite for the Heisman Trophy next season.
It will also mark the second return to Seattle for UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel, who was coach of the Huskies from 1999 to 2002 before being fired in controversial fashion in summer 2003.
Sources say that the athletic department is working with upper campus to solve what figures to be some logistical challenges in terms of transportation, parking and the overall game-day experience.
But the school thinks it is worth it to move the game for the exposure the event will bring to the program as well as enhancing UW's relationship with ESPN in a year when the Huskies are also launching a Heisman campaign for Locker.
There is apparently a promise of additional TV exposures this season on ESPN/ABC for the Huskies, games that also bring added revenue to the athletic department.
One hope is that ESPN may bring its popular "College GameDay" program to Seattle this season for a UW game. If the Huskies start out 2-0, it's possible the network might broadcast from UW before the Sept. 18 game against Nebraska — all involved have already targeted that date as a possibility given the national appeal that game could have.
Decisions on "GameDay" locations in-season, however, are typically not made until the week of the game. "GameDay" has never originated from UW for a football game, though the basketball version was broadcast from Edmundson Pavilion on the day of the UCLA game in February.
Huskies coaches also like the move of the UCLA game because the team will have 11 days off before the game (the Huskies play at Oregon on Nov. 6), then nine days off afterward to prepare for a game Nov. 27 at California.
Bob Condotta: 206-515-5699 or firstname.lastname@example.org