You’ve been punked, California.

There have been a number of false reports to the effect that California voters will watch Gov. Brown debate Neel Kashkari at 7 pm the night of Thursday, Sept. 4. How can people possibly believe this?

That date and time are all the evidence you need to know that this is a hoax. No serious political debate or significant event would be scheduled for that evening, since it would conflict with the first National Football League game of the season. You’d get a bigger audience for a debate on a Saturday night (which was the night of the one debate Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger did during his reelection campaign) than on that Thursday.

A great game too, between the defending champion Seattle Seahawks, led by Marshawn Lynch of Oakland and Richard Sherman of Compton, and the always popular Green Bay Packers, led by Chico’s Aaron Rodgers. The game will be full of suspense, the starting score will be 0-0, and California personalities will dominate the action. There is no way someone would schedule a political debate to compete against that, particularly when a Brown-Kashkari starts with the incumbent 20 points and more than $20 million ahead.

The game will go for 3 hours, giving the two teams a chance to develop strategies and tell us who they are. The hoax debate reportedly would last an hour, which is not nearly enough time for people to discuss with any intelligence the complex array of challenges facing our state.

I write about California for a living and there’s no way I would watch such a debate – if it were real, which it isn’t – instead of that football game.

Who is behind the hoax? I don’t know. Maybe the media backers of the debate want to show that they are relevant, somehow. Maybe Kashkari is so desperate for attention that he’ll agree to a debate that’s not real. Maybe Brown wants to pretend he’s debating a rival even though a real debate could only hurt him.

Or maybe this is an NFL promotional gimmick, and when you turn on the debate, you’ll actually get a feed of the football game.

Sherman, Rodgers and Lynch would all make attractive political candidates.