2012 will mark the end of several historic rivalries (Texas-Texas A&M and Missouri-Kansas to name a few) due to conference realignment and while the school shuffling won't end any of the Pac-12's longstanding rivalry games, it might force a few of them to move to a different date on the calendar.
According to a report in the San Jose Mercury News, games such as the Civil War between Oregon and Oregon State and the Big Game between Stanford and California could be moved from their traditional late November dates to earlier in the month or even October.
“Given the complexities of the scheduling,” Pac-12 deputy commissioner Kevin Weiberg told Jon Wilner, “we can’t commit to having the rivalry games stay on Thanksgiving week or the weekend before Thanksgiving.”
Obviously the league office is going to try to be as accommodating as possible and will look to minimize the scheduling issues but with the new Pac-12 media deal with ESPN/Fox starting next year and the launch of the Pac-12 Network, it's likely that not every game will be able to stay in its traditional spot on the schedule. The report notes that the number of Saturdays in the month of November will likely determine how many and which games move. Sources told Wilner that the Bay Area game is the most likely to be moved next season.
One of the best things about football in the conference formerly known as the Pac-10 was that each school had a natural rival in the state that made for a continent travel partner. The move to the Pac-12 will fill the coffers every athletic department but if there's a price to be paid, it's that they might have an earlier than usual rivalry game.
The situation can’t be avoided. The conference has limited flexibility with the schedule due to several factors:
* The Pac-12 championship game now occupies the first weekend in December, thereby eating up a Saturday previous used by some schools for their 12th regular-season game.
* The Thanksgiving Saturday games involving Stanford (odd years) and USC (even years) against Notre Dame.
* The reluctance on the part of some schools to play rivalry games on Thanksgiving weekend.
It might be disruptive to a few and upsetting for some fans but looks like something that nobody can do anything about.