Will USF-Rutgers move to Thursday night?
It's less than five months until the start of college football season, and USF is still waiting to learn whether the Bulls' Big East opener against Rutgers will be on Saturday, Sept. 15, or two days earlier in an ESPN window for a Thursday night kickoff.
The issue is USF's game the previous weekend, when the Bulls travel out west to play Nevada in Reno on Saturday, Sept. 8. The Big East has asked that the USF-Nevada game have a noon kickoff, allowing the Bulls to fly back home that night, lessening the burden of having a shorter week to prepare for Rutgers on a Thursday. If the Nevada game has a night kickoff and the Bulls can't get home until Sunday afternoon, the game might stay in its Saturday window, which you'd think USF would prefer for such a key early conference game.
Since Nevada is hosting USF, the Mountain West controls the game's TV rights, and the conference is negotiating a deal with CBS Sports, which would ultimately decide kickoff times. The USF game is one of only four this season in which MWC teams host a team from a BCS automatic-bid league -- UNLV plays host to Minnesota and Washington State, and Fresno plays host to Colorado.
If the game's on a Thursday, Rutgers would have more of an advantage, as the Scarlet Knights have a Saturday home game against I-AA Howard with an early 1 p.m. start. Rutgers will have head coach Kyle Flood in his first month as a head coach when the Scarlet Knights come to Tampa. With a Saturday start, both teams would have comparable preparation time, with each traveling once in the seven days leading up to kickoff.
Nevada senior associate athletic director Keith Hackett said Thursday that he expects to have a kickoff time for USF-Nevada in the next four or five days, suggesting a resolution could come for USF-Rutgers sometime next week.