STANFORD, CA - NOVEMBER 26: Ben Gardner #49 of the Stanford Cardinal sacks Tommy Rees #11 of the Notre Dame Fighting Irish at Stanford Stadium on November 26, 2011 in Stanford, California. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
Larry Scott is looking to Asia to open up the conference. Pete Thamel of the New York Times has a great feature on the initiatives Scott is taking, and I highly encourage any Pac-12 fan to take a look and ponder the possibilities of China and how it can help the conference move forward in a prosperous direction. Considering how invested both China and the Pac-12 are invested in the Olympic sports, you have to figure there would be mutual interest in promoting sports the nation would be interested in and finding a way to encourage more Chinese athletes to perform at top Pac-12 universities. It'd be mutually beneficial to all involved.
Of course, what most of you are probably concerned about is the idea of an excuse to spend a weekend applying for a visa and a week-long trip out to our new overlords. Looks like the Stanford Cardinal get first pick.
Notre Dame and Stanford have discussed playing their 2013 football game in China instead of in California. Oregon, with its strong Nike ties through the company’s chairman, Phil Knight, also has a strong interest in China, a focal point for Nike.
I can see a lot of reasons for the Pac-12 to be enthusiastic about this opportunity. If the game is played, it'll certainly happen somewhere outside the normal college football regular season schedule; no way could the game be contested in-season, since it'd almost certainly require both teams to have bye weeks before and after the game. I'd imagine the game would be played the week before the regular college football season starts, with both teams getting a bye week afterwards.
If played on its own, it would immediately become a marquee matchup that would be interesting to the majority of the country starving for competitive football coming out of the doldrums of summer. The contest (whether it be Notre Dame-Stanford or any other Pac-12 teams) would probably be picked up by a national carrier or the Pac-12 Network, and there'd be high demand for the game. It could be a huge draw for recruits who would love the chance to go overseas and showcase their abilities on an international stage. And it could further bolster the reputation of the conference in terms of being on the cutting edge of college athletics.
Additionally, it'll probably be a greater home field advantage then anything Stanford can offer in Palo Alto, since all the ambitious Tiger Moms will want to send their kids across the sea to California and ensure very highly prosperous futures or the family. The Chinese know how to chant in unison, and I'm sure they'll get right behind Stanford and conjure ballads heralding the great Herbert Hoover. It makes sense with the Cardinal, who would probably be the least reticent in surrendering a home matchup and trying out this bold new experiment. l
Also, Mike Leach facing off with Chip Kelly in Beijing on international television? Those two could make Pac-12 football an international sport overnight!