Washington athletic director Todd Turner had the same question this week as many other Huskies fans: Why does UW seem to play Oregon in Eugene every single year?
Saturday's game will mark the second straight year the Huskies have played Oregon in Eugene, and the Huskies are scheduled to go there again next season, making it three in a row. In fact, UW has hosted Oregon just once since 1999 — in 2003. If the teams play in Eugene next year as currently scheduled — future schedules are subject to change — it will be the fifth time in six games that the Huskies have had to play Oregon on the road.
Turner, in his second year as UW's AD, said he asked Pac-10 officials about it this week and received a 16-page fax in response.
The Cliffs Notes version goes something like this:
The Pac-10 decided in 1989 to go to a standardized schedule for conference games. Every team would play eight conference games each year — four on the road and four at home — skipping one team. The plan was that each team would skip one of the other teams twice over a 16-year period, meaning no team would ever have to miss its natural rival (UW-Washington State, etc.).
But a few years into that schedule, some conference schools began questioning the format. Specifically, Oregon never wanted to skip Washington — not only one of its most bitter rivals, but back then, also its best payday — and the four California schools didn't want to skip any of the other three in their state.
So the long-range schedule was changed on the fly, "which resulted in some funny stretches of certain teams playing at some sites three out of four years, things like that," said Pac-10 assistant commissioner Jim Muldoon. "Just about everybody has a weird one."
Indeed, Oregon will play at WSU this year for the fifth time since the 2000 season and is scheduled to play in Pullman again next year.
Seems like it would be easy to just flip those games around — send WSU to Oregon and the Ducks to Seattle, etc.
"But you still have to work it out that each team has four at home and four on the road," Muldoon said. "If you change one, it can have a domino effect."
The good news for UW fans is that the new nine-game conference schedule will end such oddities. UW is scheduled to host Oregon in 2007, 2009 and 2011, for instance.
"I'm not terribly happy about it," said Turner of playing at Oregon three straight years. "But I'm glad I didn't have to design the [conference] schedule to begin with because you just set yourself up for second-guessing."
No TV time
Turner said the Huskies would have received roughly $100,000 had Oregon agreed to switch the time of Saturday's game to 7 p.m. so it could be telecast live in the states of Oregon and Washington on FSN.
But he also said he had little argument with Oregon's decision not to change the time.
"I thought we had it worked out, but they just changed their mind and said no," Turner said. "They said they'd moved too many games recently for their fans and they want to keep it at a time when fans can drive home at a reasonable hour. I respect that."
The schools did work out a deal to have the game shown on a same-day delay at 7 p.m. on FSN.
• Huskies coach Tyrone Willingham said OT Joe Toledo was able to do some work in practice Tuesday but that he has "not been ruled in or out yet," though he said he was "encouraged by what we saw" of Toledo's return. Willingham said OT Chad Macklin "is a little further along" than Toledo.
• WR Quintin Daniels, who has not played this year after reinjuring his knee, is unlikely to return this season and might redshirt, Willingham said.
Willingham said there has been no decision yet on redshirting RB J.R. Hasty, who has been sick lately.
• One other position change coming is redshirt freshman lineman Jovan O'Connor from offense to defense.
• The forecast is for rain Saturday.