What are your thoughts on the Pac-12 plan to put the championship football game at a neutral site?
Garry Paskwietz: I can see merit in both sides of this argument of where to put the game. My initial preference is to go with the home stadium of the team with the best record; it just seems right to reward that team with the home-field advantage and it feels more like a college football atmosphere. The one thing that has made me take a look at the other side of the equation – the neutral site – is the success of the conference basketball tournament in Las Vegas. After years of watching that tournament create zero buzz in Los Angeles, it quickly improved simply by finding the proper venue. If there is such a place for football – I think Vegas would be as good a spot as any – then I would be open to giving it a shot. No matter where they hold it, the game needs to be played on Saturday, not Friday.
Johnny Curren: I like the current model better. The team that finishes with the best record in the conference receives the reward of hosting the title game, which almost always will ensure high attendance and a great atmosphere. That makes sense to me. I’m not so sure a large number of fans are going to be able to travel to Santa Clara’s Levi’s Stadium for a Friday night game on short notice, unless they’re from Cal or Stanford. And that brings up another point – Cal and Stanford would have an unfair home-field advantage if it is indeed held at that site. That being said, if the neutral site was moved to Las Vegas down the road, in a new stadium, and on a Saturday rather than a Friday, I’d be all for it. I think plenty of fans would travel to that one, and it’s more of a true neutral site. Until that day comes, however, I say keep it the way it is.
Greg Katz: When talk of a Pac-12 championship football game was first broached, the feeling here was that it should be played at a neutral site – a no-brainer. This was especially true as the Pac-12 was dividing into a North and South Division. Rewarding the team with the best overall conference record by giving them a home game for the championship game was a noble idea, but from a competitive standpoint, we all know that was and never will be a fair situation. Can you say Autzen Stadium?
As far as where the game should be played, making any site permanent in the inaugural season is ill-advised - especially if the game is in Santa Clara. Santa Clara is not exactly San Francisco and if it were, one would have to consider it a North Division advantage, anyway. Playing in the 49ers' new digs sounds exciting, but other than that, what’s the thrill for Pac-12 fans in Santa Clara or nearby San Jose? California Great America? Please.
Let’s just agree that a neutral site is the best format, but Santa Clara as the site a bad choice. You want a proven site that would draw fans? How about Las Vegas, which certainly has worked for the Pac-12 men's basketball tournament? Most Trojans fans would agree that the Royal Purple Las Vegas Bowl between the Trojans and Fresno State last December was a positive experience. Better to have a sellout at a smaller Sam Boyd Stadium than empty seats in a huge NFL cathedral in Santa Clara, especially with the nation watching.