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Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon
Kurt Kragthorpe and Kyle Goon cover the Pac-12 for The Salt Lake Tribune.

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(Al Hartmann | The Salt Lake Tribune) Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott is making plans to give the conference a bigger footprint in China by playing regular season games there.
PAC-12 considering putting football conference championship at neutral site

For now, it's a dream. But Utah football fans long for that day when they can watch their team duke out a Pac-12 foe for the conference title in ... Santa Clara?

That's what the conference is discussing this week, according to Sports Illustrated. Pete Thamel, Stewart Mandel and Lindsay Schnell were first to report that Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott confirmed that the conference could move the title game to a neutral venue such as Levi Stadium, the newly constructed home of the San Francisco 49ers.

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If the Pac-12 chooses to adopt the neutral site, the two division champs would play there on Dec. 5 of this year, replacing the current structure in which the team with the best record hosts the game at home.

The Pac-12 presidents and chancellors ultimately decide whether they'll move forward with the new format in their meetings in June. But is it a good idea?

Mr. College Hotline himself, Jon Wilner, offers some thoughts:

Upon announcing the formation of the title game four years ago, commissioner Larry Scott hailed the NFL-style approach because it:

• Rewarded the team with the best record

• Added value to the regular season

• Reduced travel costs for he fans of at least one team

• Created an exciting atmosphere

After three title games, not much has changed.

Yes, the atmosphere for the '12 game at Stanford was awful, but that was largely because of the timing (Friday night) and weather (torrential rain). And the short turnaround has caused logistical issues for the host school.

But otherwise, the atmospheres in Eugene and Tempe were better than they would have been for neutral-site games.

In fact, I'm struggling to figure out why the conference would make the change.

Using that tidy summary as a jumping-off point, it is a bit curious as to why the Pac-12 would want to make the permanent site its home for the championship. It may have something to do with how well fans have traveled to Vegas for the Pac-12 basketball tournament, or maybe it merely is a desire to move the game to a somewhat median location in the coast with plenty of different fan bases around.

Regarding the logistics: It can be very tough to sell tickets with a week long turnaround and scramble together everything necessary to host a big game. But either way, ticket sales are going to be tough, especially if fans have to travel. There's a segment of fans who will simply save their money for the bowl game and skip the conference championship if it's distance-prohibitive.

Gauging some of my Utes followers, there seems to be an interest in rotating the location of the neutral-site game between North and South division locations, such as Phoenix. Since the Bay Area is pretty much Stanford/Cal country, maybe it would be more fair to have a switch every other year.

Other people are fine shelling out the cash to go wherever the conference championship game is. Others would like the chance to host it at Rice-Eccles.

It's an intriguing issue that has a few sides to it. If you have an opinion, chime in with a comment.

Kyle Goon

kgoon@sltrib.com

Twitter: @kylegoon

PAC-12 Links
Links from around the Pac-12
Arizona (Tucson Citizen)
» Photos: UA sports Throwback Thursday Jared Tevis
» Arizona Wildcats' Lalang honored as top scholar-athlete
» Pac 12 Media Days
» Arizona football: Live blog from Pac-12 Media Days

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Tough scheduling could benefit Pac-12 teams
» Video: Haller previews ASU on Pac-12 Network
» Doug Haller's Pac-12 football preseason ballot
» Pac-12 football media day: Latest news, updates

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Coach Sonny Dykes promises Cal Bears will be competitive
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott disputes remarks by Big 12's Bob Bowlsby
» DirecTV still saying no to Pac-12 Network
» Coach Sonny Dykes admits to worry about Cal's secondary

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott: league "well positioned" for playoffs
» CU Buffs picked 6th in Pac-12 football media poll; Oregon the favorite
» Greg Henderson ready to etch name with list of CU's four-year starters
» CU's MacIntyre knows what to expect from new safety addition

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Upsets rule in the 100 meters at the IAAF World Junior Championships
» Ashlee Moore, incoming Oregon Duck, talks heptathlon performance at IAAF World Junior Championships: Video
» Great Britain's Morgan Lake turns a 2013 failure into a 2014 heptathlon title: IAAF World Junior Championships 2014
» Oregon Ducks picked to win Pac-12 football championship: Your comments

Oregon State (Corvallis Gazette-Times)
» Oregon State hires longtime trainer hired Fred Tedeschi
» Beavers hire Mark Massari as deputy athletics director
» Oregon State hands out Bennys to top athletes, coaches and teams
» OSU fishing: MacDonald, Martinez win conference tournament

Stanford (San Jose Mercury-News)
» Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott disputes remarks by Big 12's Bob Bowlsby
» DirecTV still saying no to Pac-12 Network
» Stanford, SJSU game might move to Levi's Stadium
» Oregon picked over Stanford to win Pac-12 North

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» College Football: Position coach Adrian Klemm says UCLA offensive line a work in progress
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: Improving UCLA has questions to answer during preseason football camp
» COLLEGE FOOTBALL: UCLA's prized recruit Eddie Vanderdoes cleared to play by NCAA after leaving Notre Dame

USC (Los Angeles Daily News)
» USC Football Notebook: Marqise Lee's injury not too serious
» USC Football Notebook: QBs Max Wittek, Cody Kessler present dilemma for Trojans coach Lane Kiffin
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Former UCLA coach Rick Neuheisel thinks Trojans might not miss QB Matt Barkley
» USC FOOTBALL NOTEBOOK: Dion Bailey says it's 'now or never'

Washington (Seattle Times)
» Pac-12 football media live, July 24
» Washington to play Oklahoma in Las Vegas
» Jayda Evans' power rankings: Week 10 Edition (VIDEO)
» Live chat from Pac-12 football media days at 3 p.m.

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Notes, quotes and stories from media day
» (Transcript) Mike Leach at media day
» (Video) Mike Leach at media day
» Bronze may be Sherman's favorite color



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