Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour figured as long as the football program was offering guaranteed money for an opponent, she might as well keep it in the family.
The Bears open the 2010 season this afternoon against UC Davis, and part of the reason the Aggies are on the schedule is because of the state budget crisis.
UC Davis is getting $300,000 for the game, and Barbour is happy that money will be going to another school in the UC system.
"We agreed that it made financial sense," Barbour said. "If you're going to have a guaranteed payout, why not help a fellow UC school? It makes all the sense in the world.
"It's the kind of thing we need to be thinking about."
Barbour said she and UC Davis athletic director Greg Warzecka started talking about a game several years ago and at one point an agreement was in place until it logistically fell through. They renewed the talks in 2008 when the economy began to tank.
"Sandy and I talked about that a lot, trying to keep the money in the state because we're all kind of struggling to pay all the bills," Warzecka said. "We all hoped for a good response in this game because it's so important with this economy."
Cal also gave UC Davis 5,000 tickets to sell, and Warzecka said they were sold quickly for the first meeting of the schools since 1939.
He said Aggies fans are still buying tickets through the Cal ticket office. Although it may not appear to be the most competitive game on paper, a good turnout is expected because of Davis' proximity to the Bay Area and the amount of alums in the Bay Area.
"It also makes sense from the standpoint that there is local interest," Barbour said. "Compared to some of the other folks we could have scheduled in that slot, the game is significant."
Warzecka, a Cal alum and former assistant baseball coach for the Bears, said today's game has created quite a buzz around the Davis campus.
The Aggies are in their fourth year playing in the Football Bowl Subdivision and are picked to win the Great West Conference for the second straight year.
"This is kind of a new twist," he said. "I think it's a fun game for the fans. Certainly, that has been the response on our side up here in Davis."