Jan. 4, 2012
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BERKELEY - California football returns to Memorial Stadium in 2012 and will host seven games with a schedule that rates as one of the strongest in recent memory with the likes of Stanford, Oregon and Washington all traveling to Berkeley.
Of the seven teams to visit Berkeley, six participated in a bowl game this past year.
Cal kicks off the 2012 season against Nevada on Sept. 1 with a grand reopening of its historic venue. The series with the Wolf Pack dates back to 1899, nearly a quarter century before Memorial Stadium welcomed its first visitors in 1923. Now, the facility begins a new era after undergoing a $321 million facelift that brings the stadium up to modern standards with a renovation and seismic retrofit covering the western two-thirds of the structure.
On Sept. 8, the Bears welcome Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) opponent Southern Utah to campus. The Thunderbirds, who will move to the Big Sky Conference from the Great West Conference next year, finished the 2011 season with a 6-5 mark that included a 41-16 win over UNLV. Southern Utah was ranked among the top 25 in the FCS midway through the season and returns the GWC Offensive Player of the Year in quarterback Brad Sorensen.
Cal next heads on the road for a pair of contests against two formidable opponents, playing at Ohio State Sept. 15 before traveling to Los Angeles to face USC Sept. 22. Cal and Ohio State are meeting for the first time since 1972, with the Buckeyes owning a 5-1 series edge. The schools first met in the 1921 Rose Bowl when the Bears prevailed, 28-0. OSU returned the favor with a 17-14 Rose Bowl victory in the 1950 game. Ohio State will visit Berkeley on Sept. 14, 2013, to complete the home-and-home series.
The year's second two-game homestand begins Sept. 29 when Arizona State comes to Memorial Stadium, while Homecoming Weekend will feature UCLA on Oct. 6.
A trip to Washington State on Oct. 13 precedes the Big Game vs. Stanford on Oct. 20 - a unique date that came as a result of complexities created with the expansion to a 12-team conference. The overall conference schedule, affirmed by a vote of the Pac-12 schools earlier this fall, came despite opposition from both Cal and Stanford due to the date of the Big Game (see Q&A below for an in-depth explanation of the scheduling process).
Cal then heads to Utah for an Oct. 27 matchup in Salt Lake City before returning to Berkeley for its final two contests in Memorial Stadium. The Bears host Washington on Friday, Nov. 2 and close out the home slate against Oregon Nov. 10. The regular season concludes at Oregon State Nov. 17. The Pac-12 Championship Game will be on Friday, Nov. 30 at the home of the conference team with the best record.
Television broadcast information and start times will be announced at a later date.
In all, a total of eight opponents earned bowl berths following the 2011 campaign: Nevada (Sheraton Hawaii Bowl), Ohio State (TaxSlayer.com Gator Bowl), Arizona State (MAACO Bowl Las Vegas), UCLA (Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl), Stanford (Tostitos Fiesta Bowl), Utah (Hyundai Sun Bowl), Washington (Valero Alamo Bowl) and Oregon (Rose Bowl presented by Vizio).
Cal finished its 2011 season with a 7-6 mark and 4-5 record in the Pac-12. The Bears advanced to their eighth bowl in the past nine seasons with a trip to the Bridgepoint Education Holiday Bowl.
After spending 88 seasons at Memorial Stadium from 1923-2010, Cal played its 2011 home games to AT&T Park in San Francisco while the on-campus facility was under construction. For complete information on Memorial Stadium, including season-ticket packages for the 2012 campaign, visit CaliforniaMemorialStadium.com.
All 2010 and '11 season-ticket holders, as well as Athletic Department donors at the $100 level and above, will automatically receive a seat-selection time for the 2012 campaign. Fans who want to become new season-ticket holders can place a per-seat deposit to receive a seat-selection time through Jan. 18.
ESP participants have the opportunity to select additional seats and will choose first in the ESP Priority Window, followed by 2011 season-ticket holders and donors at the $1,200 level and above; 2010 season-ticket holders and donors at the $100 level and above; and new season-ticket holders who have placed a deposit for 2012 seats. Within each group, fans will be ranked in priority-point order to determine specific seat selection times.
2012 Cal Football Schedule
Sat Sept. 1 Nevada Berkeley Sat Sept. 8 Southern Utah Berkeley Sat Sept. 15 at Ohio State Columbus, Ohio Sat Sept. 22 at USC Los Angeles, Calif. Sat Sept. 29 Arizona State Berkeley Sat Oct. 6 UCLA^ Berkeley Sat Oct. 13 at Washington State Pullman, Wash. Sat Oct. 20 Stanford Berkeley Sat Oct. 27 at Utah Salt Lake City, Utah Fri Nov. 2 Washington Berkeley Sat Nov. 10 Oregon Berkeley Sat Nov. 17 at Oregon State Corvallis, Ore. ^Homecoming Home games (in bold) at Memorial Stadium
Comment from Director of Athletics Sandy Barbour on the 2012 Big Game:
"As a conference, we are undertaking many tremendous initiatives, most of which will result in positive contributions and significant improvement to the experience of our student-athletes, as well as benefit our fan communities. Undoubtedly, one of the results is the addition of significant complexities to the scheduling process. I am very disappointed that these challenges have resulted in the moving of our rivalry game with Stanford - one of the longest standing traditions in all of college football - away from its proper place and time in the rhythm of the football season. I believe that college football is unique, in large part, because of traditions like the Big Game, and we believe that those traditions should be carefully protected.
"Although Cal and Stanford were opposed to the schedule that was ultimately adopted because of the placement of the Big Game, we remain a full participant in the conference's decision-making and governance process, working to ensure that our interests are fully considered. We at Cal are dedicated to assisting the Pac-12 in finding ways for future rivalry games for all conference schools to be protected. If that is deemed impossible given all the constraints, then we will be insistent that the burden is shared equitably across all institutions, so that no one school or pair of schools bears this burden alone."
Why is the Big Game in October in 2012?
Playing the Big Game at the end of the regular season has been a Bay Area tradition for many, many years, one that fans and everyone within Cal Athletics would like to see continue. However, recent changes in the football landscape have made assembling a Pac-12 schedule more and more challenging.
The schedule for all conference games is decided by a vote of the league's athletic directors. For 2012, three football schedules were presented to the conference ADs for approval - one with the Big Game on the Friday after Thanksgiving, Schedule A with the game on Oct. 20 and Schedule B with the game on Nov. 17. Both Cal and Stanford favored Schedule B and lobbied for its acceptance. While this version kept the Big Game on a more traditional Saturday late in the season, other dates for conference games were significantly impacted.
In line with conference policy, the schedules were put to a vote among the 12 athletic directors, and the majority vote favored schedule A - which slots the Stanford-Cal game on Oct. 20.
The issue is not exclusive to the Big Game, as the scheduling complexity affects all games throughout the Pac-12. Among the factors making an impact are required bye weeks before Thursday-night games (there will be four such games next fall) and the number of available weeks to play a 12-game season between the Labor Day and Thanksgiving weekends.
We do not expect this 2012 scenario to be the norm, but an exception. The 2013 and other future schedules have not yet been approved by the conference, and Cal will do its best to help ensure the Big Game will be scheduled as close to the end of the season as possible.
Why not play the Big Game on Thanksgiving Weekend?
As all Cal fans know, the Big Game is more than just a football game played on a Saturday in the fall. The buildup to the annual contest includes a weeklong list of events - from the Cable Car Rally in San Francisco on Mondays to the Bonfire Rally at the Greek Theatre on Friday nights, not to mention the series of alumni luncheons and dinners, including the Guardsman Luncheon, and the annual Laugh Your Axe Off student comedy show.
To hold the Big Game on Thanksgiving weekend would mean that many of these beloved activities would have to be eliminated because so many of our ticket holders, particularly our students, want to spend time away with their families during this period.
Why hasn't the Big Game date been an issue in previous seasons?
Several years ago, when college football moved to a 12-game regular season, the natural date for the Big Game frequently fell on Thanksgiving Weekend. To avoid that conflict, Cal and Stanford were often able to push the game to early December, such as in 2006 and 2007. In other years, in concert with the rest of the conference, the schools were able to move games around on the schedule and had another contest after the Big Game, which occurred for the three years from 2008-10 when Cal finished the season against Washington. This fall, the Big Game was Nov. 19 with a Thanksgiving Weekend game at Arizona State Nov. 25. Stanford has also had a contest after Big Game six times since 2001, including this year's game vs. Notre Dame Nov. 26.
However, now that the conference has expanded to 12 teams, the Pac-12 Championship Game will be on the first Friday in December or last Friday in November, which limits scheduling options at the end of the year and creates some of the challenges noted above.
What are the impacts for the Friday night game vs. Washington?
A number of logistical challenges certainly exist for Cal's home game against Washington on Friday, Nov. 2 given that classes will be in session and 60,000 Golden Bear football fans will be coming to Memorial Stadium during the late afternoon. We anticipate an early evening kickoff for the contest. Cal Athletics is already working collaboratively with the academic and administrative leadership on campus to find a solution that will accommodate the needs of students, faculty, staff, football fans and neighbors who live in the surrounding community, particularly to minimize traffic concerns.
As part of the new Pac-12 media rights agreement that takes effect in August, each conference school will regularly host games on dates other than Saturday. Cal has committed to one Friday night home game in every two-year cycle, meaning that there will be no Friday game in 2013, but will be in either 2014 or 2015.
Once a plan is developed for Nov. 2, it will be communicated widely to help insure a smooth operation for the game.