Sometimes on Sundays: Move to Pac-12 will find Utah Utes playing more Sunday games
Last year when the Pac-10 increased the number of Sunday night men's basketball games from two to seven for TV purposes, a couple of league coaches objected.
"I don't think playing a Sunday night game helps much of anybody," Cal coach Mike Montgomery told the Seattle Times. "I think kids need rest, to do their laundry and study, all the stuff that kids do."
UCLA's Ben Howland isn't a fan of Sunday games either, as he told the Times, "The one day these kids actually have a chance to have off is Sunday."
While coaches like Montgomery and Howland like having Sundays off for their players, one advantage to Sunday play is less school time taken away from student-athletes, especially in the non-revenue sports.
If a team goes on the road for a Friday night-Sunday afternoon road trip, it means one less day away from class compared to a Thursday-Saturday trip. Same with conference tournaments starting later in the week and ending on a Sunday.
With BYU no longer in the conference, the MWC is changing several of its postseason tournaments for that very reason.
According to Javan Hedlund, associate commissioner for the MWC, next year's MWC tournaments will feature five events that will finish on Sunday, including men's and women's tennis, men's and women's golf and baseball.
Women's soccer games are traditionally played on Fridays and Sundays, which Utah has done for years in non-conference games. It will be no different in the Pac-12, where the Utes have four league games on Sunday, including two at home.
Baseball is the same, with most three-game sets scheduled for Friday through Sunday. This past season, the Utes had a pair of home games on Sunday as they've had most years in the MWC and WAC, and that won't change in the Pac-12. The Utah softball team hasn't played many Sunday league games, but will in the Pac-12 with a three-game weekend schedule like baseball.
There has been talk that some Saturday football games could be moved to Sunday, but most likely Utah and other schools won't have to worry about Sunday football games.
So what happens if the league decides to give Utah a Sunday home game or two, say for men's basketball or women's gymnastics?
"We'll have to fit the schedule," says Hill. "We aren't going to be treated any differently that anybody else."
Traditionally gymnastics meets have been held on Fridays at the Huntsman Center, and that should be able to continue since the league schedule is more flexible with only eight schools that field gymnastics teams and not every school competing against each other.
As far as Sunday men's basketball games go, the Utes may not have to worry about that until the team becomes more competitive. Last year, the schools with the most Sunday games were three of the better teams — Arizona, UCLA and Washington — with three apiece, while Oregon, which finished near the bottom, had no Sunday games.
Pac-12 games on Sunday
Women's soccer: 24
Women's basketball: 13*
Men's basketball: 9*
*Number for 2010-11. The 2011-12 schedules are not finalized.
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