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Cal-Stanford Big Game Scheduling: Pre-Thanksgiving Or Post-Thanksgiving?

TwistNHook: For the past several years, the Big Game has not been the last game of the season. There has been a coda to the season, in the form of a 1-2 record against UW. Many people have decried these post-Big Game games. They state that it goes against the tradition. They state that Cal has tended to come out flat in the games as they spend all their energy in the Big Game. All of these arguments are well and good, but now things have changed.

With the creation of the Pac12, the question is not necessarily about whether to have the Big Game as the last game of the year anymore. It is also when to schedule the Big Game. The Pac12 will have a championship game. This will have to occur on the first Saturday of December, because the BCS Selection show is the first Sunday in December.

Previously, Cal had held a regular season game on that first saturday in December. However, now that that weekend will have to be saved, Cal now has to compete in a game in the last Saturday of November (i.e. 2 days after Thanksgiving). We just saw Cal take on UW 2 days after Thanksgiving.

You can see next year, Cal will head to ASU 2 days after Thanksgiving

It lists that there are no games after Thanksgiving in 2012 and 2013. However, it does not appear that any byes are scheduled in those years and so it is likely that the schedules will change. These post-Big Game Washington games the past few years have started in the middle of the season and then been moved to make space for a bye.

So, it looks like the next few years, the Big Games will be played on the Saturday before Thanksgiving while another non-Big Game game will be played the Saturday directly after Thanksgiving. What are people's thoughts on this? Is it better to have the Big Game be the second to last game to avoid being played right after Thanksgiving? Or is it better to have the Big Game be the last game of the season no matter what?

Kodiak: Traditionally speaking, I like having the Big Game be the last game of the season. That said, it doesn't really matter anymore since we now have a Pac-12 championship game.

Since student participation is a huge part of any rivalry game, I'm quite okay with the Big Game not being the one scheduled for 2 days after Thanksgiving. Many students go home for the holiday and it's simply not financially feasible to expect students to come back to Berkeley for a football game. Like it or not, we actually have students who care about their academics - it's not like we're some po-dunk school that offers a hand-shake certificate in exchange for four years of partying.

Life goes on. Many of the major conferences have their rivalry game played mid-season or 2+ games before the end. The important thing is beating the evil 'furds...not when we do it. Game on. Let the media whine. We need to sack up and play.


I like having the Big Game as the last game of the year, but I also liked using Tele-BEARS and having a Foot Locker and Gap on Telegraph. Things change. I don't want to be grumpy old alum here - if we win, then people will stop complaining. Tradition is good, but at Cal we also have a tradition of losing in the worst, most gut-wrenching way possible. So some traditions can go ahead and go away.

If the Big Game ceases to be the last game, but we start beating the Furdites again, I sense we (the fanbase) will find something else to complain about.

OhioBear: Let's face it - Stanfurd shit on the tradition a long time ago with their Notre Dame series and playing the final home game of the season in odd years vs. Notre Dame instead of in the Big Game. Big Game as the last would be nice, but it does not seem feasible now and it's not like we're destroying a time honored tradition anymore. Play it whenever -- just win it, Bears.

solarise: How about making the Big Game like the Red River Rivalry and play it in neutral territory? I hear AT&T might be available after 2011.

Avinash: I dissent. If it's going to be near the end of the season, the Big Game should be the last game. Players are prone to letdowns unless something relevant is on the line. It's just a strange strategy.

People will always get up for it regardless of time or date. Using the Washington game as proof of future poor Thanksgiving week attendance seems circumspect. Do we honestly think students will screw off the Big Game and not come back a day early? Every other rivalry game around the country is being played Thanksgiving weekend now and they all sell out easily. Is it just different for us because we're Cal?

If you decide NOT to put the Big Game last, you're assuring depressed attendance for a final home game or decreased interest for a final road game. At least with the Big Game last, we're building up to the finale. It gives you a chance to finish your season on a very positive note.

HydroTech: I like having the rivalry game at the very end of the season. For most teams it's the biggest game of the season, and the most emotional one too. Playing the rivalry games mid-season can lead to emotional letdowns the following week because there isn't enough time to emotionally recover. If the games were the last game of the season, teams would have weeks to recover before their bowl games.

atomsareenough: I think it should be the last game of the season, ideally.

However, if this isn't possible, I'd like it to be earlier on in the season, then. Second-to-last week seems to lead to potential letdown in the final game. I don't really think any such hangover effect is really excusable, but unfortunately it seems to be happening to us lately. Though I will note that Stanfurd didn't seem to have much of a letdown in their final game against Oregon State after their huge Big Game win over us, so maybe it's a problem with our coaches or players, and not the timing of the game as much.

Anyway, here's a thought; why not open the conference schedule with the rivalry games? People have returned to campus by then, and everyone's excited about the season still. Every single team still has a crack at the championship. It makes a ton of sense to me.

Avinash: Open the schedule? I dunno. I mean in theory it's an exciting idea and will certainly provide us with the Red River Rivalry of the Pac-12 (it's early, it'll be a marquee event, Cal and Stanford will hopefully not have ruined their seasons yet). However, the downside if we lose could also be enormous, because the losing opponent could stumble and bumble for a few weeks trying to recover from that one.

In addition, remember that for a lot of Cal fans, the Big Game is the ONLY game they care about. We'd like to think we have a resilient fanbase like Florida or Texas (who still have home attendance of 90 to 100k during their worst seasons in over a decade), but we don't. So if we lose, the possibility of ticket sales diminishing for the rest of the year is also a distinct possibility. That is probably the biggest impediment to such a proposal. I'd think Cal would have to go to multiple Rose Bowls and build up a resilient fanbase, and even then I'd be a little skittish (Bay Area fans are fickle).

What are your thoughts, dearest readers? Have the Big Game the Saturday before Thanksgiving? Have the Big Game the Saturday directly after Thanksgiving? Have the Big Game sometime earlier in the season? Tell us in the comments and vote in the poll! GO BEARS!