SEATTLE — Chris Petersen felt the need to apologize Monday for something completely out of his control.
The Washington coach is tired of seeing the sixth-ranked Huskies stuck with less than optimal kickoff times — both because it affects fans and reduces exposure for the program.
Washington found out Sunday that its home game against California this week will kick off at 7:45 p.m. Pacific. On Monday, Petersen found out the Huskies got another 7:45 p.m. kickoff for their game next week at Arizona State.
By the time Washington finishes up with the Sun Devils and heads into its bye week, the Huskies will not have started a game earlier than 5 p.m. Pacific.
“I just want to say something to our fans: we apologize for these late games. And I’d also like to reiterate it has nothing to do with us or the administration,” Petersen said. “We want to play at 1 p.m. It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure. No one wants to watch our game on the East Coast that late, and we all know it. We haven’t had a kickoff before 5 p.m. this season.
“And so it’s painful for our team, it’s painful for our administration and we know certainly the most important part is for our fans.”
In a way, Washington is a victim of its own success. As the program has improved under Petersen, it’s become a desirable school to feature among the national broadcasts that are part of the Pac-12’s television package. But that means sometimes fitting into time slots that don’t lend themselves to optimal viewing.
Last year, Washington had just four regular-season games that started at 5 p.m. or later. After playing at Arizona State, the Huskies will have played four games that started at 7:30 p.m. or later local time.
Petersen doesn’t believe the conference is interested in having input from the coaches on game times.
“I don’t think they even kind of care about my voice, or probably any of the coaches’ voices,” Petersen said. “I don’t think there is one coach out there, or probably school, in the West that wants to play our games at late night and all of that. Everyone wants to play in the daytime.”
Petersen may not get much relief as the season goes on. Washington’s game at Stanford on Nov. 10 is already set for a 7:30 p.m. start. The Huskies also have marquee home games against UCLA, Oregon, Utah and rival Washington State.