Since the inception of the Pac-12 Conference Title game it has had a unique approach to the location of the game. When it began in 2011 the host site belonged to the conference team with the best record, that year it happened to the the Oregon Ducks. They hosted, and beat UCLA in front of over 57,000 fans. In 2012 Stanford and UCLA battled for the title on a weeknight in front of just over 31,000 fans. Now it appears we can throw the ‘home field’ advantage, for some teams out the window as the Conference will announce a new permanent home for the game.
On Thursday, after some debate, Levi’s Stadium, the new home for the San Francisco 49ers will become the place to play the Pac-12 Title Game, taking an advantage away from two thirds of the Pac-12 Conference, not to mention all the excitement for those teams who would have ‘hosted’ the game. As an Oregon fan, I would not be happy with this, but for one reason. The Oregon Ducks have an advantage.
With the new stadium in play for the upcoming season, the team will play there against Cal on October 24th, so if they get through the regular season and back to Santa Clara it will be for the second time. The bigger question is, will fans follow their team potentially twice to watch in person. In the year of the first College Football Playoff fans across the country could be taking two trips to the Pac-12 Title Game, and possibly several playoff games. Where do you draw the line and hold out for the ‘best’ option and just watch the rest from the comfort of your couch.
The Pac-12 Conference has already played the title game on a Friday night in California to mixed results. This year’s Title game will also be played on a Friday. We’ll see then if a shiny new stadium over home field advantage is a good idea in December, but I have an idea the disadvantage will fall on the Conference.