LOS ANGELES (CBS SF/AP) — The Pac-12 may try a new scheduling approach this season.
Commissioner Larry Scott said Fox and conference athletic directors are in preliminary talks about morning kickoffs for some games, which would put them in the network’s key 12 p.m. Eastern timeslot.
Any morning kickoffs, which would be at 9 a.m. Pacific and 10 a.m. Mountain, would be voluntary and not dictated by Fox.
“That would be new and somewhat out of the box but I’ve tried to put everything on the table,” Scott said. “I think there are some schools and markets that might respond positively.”
Coaches are split about the possibility of a morning kickoff. UCLA’s Chip Kelly said the time doesn’t matter while Stanford’s David Shaw said he would be somewhat resistant.
“All the studies we’ve all read and conducted ourselves on our campus, our sleep studies, it is better for young people to perform athletically if they get a full night’s sleep,” Shaw said. “And I don’t know that you can find any group of 18- to 22-year-old young people that are going to go to bed at 10 o’clock at night to get up at 6 o’clock in the morning to make sure they can perform athletically.”
The Pac-12 champions have only been invited to play in the college football playoffs twice since the inception of the format during the 2014-2015 season. Oregon played in the 2014-2015 playoffs while Washington played in the 2016-2017 playoffs.
Many believe the late Pac-12 kickoff times in the east hunt their members chances when it comes to the playoffs.
The conference is also moving its title game out of the Bay Area and relocating to Las Vegas in 2020 and 2021.
The league title game has been played at Levi’s Stadium in suburban Santa Clara since 2014, but it has struggled for solid attendance in the past half-decade, including a noticeably empty stadium for Washington’s win over Utah last year.
After the upcoming season, the game will move to party-friendly Las Vegas and the Raiders’ new stadium, which is still under construction just west of the Strip.
The Pac-12 men’s basketball tournament has been played in Las Vegas since 2013, and conference leaders have credited the move with boosting attendance.