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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 Chase Budinger
» UA fall sports carry big expectations into 2014
» UA announces 2014 sports Hall of Fame class
» UA football: Notes and quotes from Wednesday's practice

Arizona St. (Arizona Republic)
» Ex-ASU star Carson signs with Australian team
» ASU selects captains, awards 5 scholarships
» Boateng taking reins at hybrid LB spot
» Photos in lockers inspire players

California (East Bay Tribune)
» Cal football: Safety Lowe shapes up, holds job
» Cal's goal in Dykes' second season is to establish running game
» Stanford 11th in AP's top 25 preseason football poll; Florida State No. 1
» AP Top 25 Preseason Poll

Colorado (Denver Post)
» Colorado feels fortunate to have avoided a rash of preseason injuries
» Colorado senior receiver D.D. Goodson: not overlooked by coaches
» Colorado redshirt freshman Phillip Lindsay: two touchdown runs in scrimmage gave me confidence
» Buffs offense to "move guys around," says receivers coach Troy Walters

Oregon (The Oregonian)
» Former Oregon Ducks running back Jonathan Stewart scores twice for Carolina Panthers against Kansas City
» Mark Helfrich on the last scrimmage of fall camp: 'I liked our energy a lot better today' (video)
» Marcus Mariota says winning a championship is the 'No. 1. goal'
» Marcus Mariota praises Royce Freeman, then explains the importance of Oregon Ducks' redshirts

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)
» Stanford football: Defensive coordinator learns from 49ers counterpart
» Stanford 11th in AP's top 25 preseason football poll; Florida State No. 1
» AP Top 25 Preseason Poll
» Stanford football: Tailbacks Kelsey Young, Remound Wright miss scrimmage

UCLA (Los Angeles Daily News)
» UCLA Football Notebook: Running back Malcolm Jones loses appeal for extra season
» 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
» Pac-12 Media Day: Eyes on Anthony Barr for UCLA's 2013 hopes

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)
» Freshmen Brayden Lenius, Dante Pettis expected to contribute for UW's receiving corps
» Video: UW offensive lineman James Atoe
» Huskies morning links: UW offering a new cheap ticket option (with beer!)
» UW football live chat at noon today

Washington State (Spokane Spokesman-Review)
» Gabe Marks could redshirt
» Ewu sports chat Aug. 21 (noon)
» Football season has officially begun
» Eastern football links



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