The Pac 12’s two top preseason playoff contenders had Saturday games scheduled in the conference’s absolute, two worst promotional slots.

USC hosted Oregon State, in broad daylight, but it was carried on Pac 12 Network. That meant no one with DirecTV could bother watching it which, in this case, was probably a good thing.

As noted by the website, a recently announced Pac 12 distribution deal with Alibaba makes it easier for fans in China to watch football games than all us English speakers saddled with DirecTV.

Perfect timing: I ordered Chinese on Friday night and got this fortune in my cookie: “may you live in interesting times with a Pac 12 commissioner looking to expand his footprint in Asia.”

USC took care of business, 38-10, against a truly terrible Oregon State team. The Trojans didn’t cover the 34-point spread and if they looked sloppy, well, the good news is no one saw it.

Washington, the other Pac masthead, played at the other end of a problematic situation. The Huskies had a 7:45 p.m. home kickoff against California.

This game was available on a major outlet, ESPN, but too late for anyone in the East to care two cups of clam chowder about it. Or, that U-Dub dominated Da Bears,  38-7, to improve to 6-0 and a make a case it is the best team in the west, or at least north of San Diego State.

Washington Coach Chris Petersen apologized to his fans this week for all these late-night kicks. They’re great for sales at Starbucks– he said in between cashing $5 million checks thanks in part to the Pac’s $3 billion deal with ESPN\FOX–but a real buzz kill for keeping a contending team in the conversation.

“It hurts us tremendously in terms of national exposure,” Petersen said.

Coach Pete then, we learned from the ESPN broadcast crew Saturday night, refused to meet this week the network that helped make him rich.

How shallow and small-Boise potatoes–no wonder he wasn’t the right fit at USC. Could you image the head coach at USC, at 5-0 and ranked in the top 10, not meeting with the broadcast crew because he was upset over late kick-off times?

Anyway, Coach Pete’s snit led to a counter attack Saturday morning by ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit, who said the Pac 12 should be grateful for any coverage it gets. Or, something like that. I turned the channel when I thought I saw Herbie tip his crown and say “Let them eat cake!”

You could start to feel the tension mount as five major-conference champions continue to sweat it out for four playoff spots.

And then Oklahoma happened. The rest of this article is available to subscribers only – to become a subscriber click here.