ESPN has a vision for Kansas State’s upcoming football game against Auburn. The TV network wants to broadcast the clash of Big 12 and SEC teams, which will be played at Snyder Family Stadium next season, to a national audience in a primetime Thursday slot on Sept. 18.
But it is taking longer than expected for that vision to become reality.
Case in point: K-State hasn’t announced its 2014 schedule, because it is waiting on ESPN. If it has to wait much longer, athletic director John Currie says the Wildcats will have no choice to but to keep the game on Saturday, Sept. 20, regardless of ESPN’s desires.
“If they (ESPN) can get done what they need to get done and move everything around, the game will be played on Thursday,” Currie said Tuesday. “But I have also told them we need to know so our people can make plans. If we go along too long and they can’t resolve it, we will just set the game on Saturday and move on.”
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Currie has been swamped with questions about the date of the Auburn game for more than a month. The most demanding query came over the weekend, when he said a man approached him after church to ask if he should schedule his daughter’s wedding for Sept. 20 in Manhattan. He was only interested in the date if there was no football game that day.
“He was anxious to know and I want to know, too, and I know our fans want to know,” Currie said. “We are just waiting on ESPN. They certainly have a preference to move that game to Thursday night. It creates an extraordinary opportunity and it is part of our conference obligation in terms of our contract.
“I would anticipate that will be resolved in the next little while, and I am as anxious as anybody for it to be resolved.”
Currie was confident ESPN would set its college football schedule by now. In his last two letters to fans, posted on K-State’s athletic website, he said the Widlcats’ 2014 schedule was “very” close to becoming final.
It still isn’t.
There are mixed views on when the game should be played. When asked about the possibility of moving the Auburn game to a Thursday, K-State coach Bill Snyder last month said, “It’s the last thing in the world I want to do.”
Currie acknowledged a Thursday game would inconvenience some fans, especially those hoping to drive in from across the state. Auburn is coming off an appearance in the BCS championship game. K-State just won the Buffalo Wild Wings Bowl. It should be one of the best nonconference games of the seasons.
Currie also said there are advantages to playing on Thursday, including a bigger student crowd and additional exposure.
“You’ve got two games on Thursday vs. 60 on a Saturday,” Currie said. “There are going to be more eyeballs on us. It’s a tremendous opportunity. But we are prepared to play on Saturday, too. This will be one of the most talked about games in the country.”
2015 schedule set — The 2014 schedule was difficult to finalize for more reasons than the Auburn game. Texas-San Antonio was supposed to play a nonconference game at Snyder Family Stadium, but it bought its way out of the game at the last minute. K-State was forced to scramble for a new opponent, and ended up paying $900,000 – a program record, Currie said – to Texas-El Paso to fill the slot.
Currie doesn’t envision such problems for the 2015 schedule. He said K-State has signed contracts with South Dakota and Louisiana Tech for home games and with Texas-San Antonio for a game at the Alamodome.