- Chantel Jennings, ESPN Staff Writer
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PHOENIX -- Pac-12 coaches on Tuesday finished up the first day of the spring meetings with the morning session filled with mostly housekeeping items: scheduling, the College Football Playoff, bowl affiliations, summer practices and player stipends.
The largest news item to come out of the day was the discussion to move the Pac-12 championship game to Levi’s Stadium, the future home of the San Francisco 49ers, in Santa Clara, California. No coaches gave specifics on a timeline of when this would be put into effect, but it could happen as early as 2014.
Since the Pac-12 conference expanded to 12 teams in 2011, the game has been held at the stadium of the division champion with the better record. Levi’s Stadium, which will be completed and opened by August, will hold 68,500 fans.
Stanford coach David Shaw, who has been in the Pac-12 championship game two years in a row (with one as the home team and one as the visiting team), said he’s split on the idea of the neutral site game and that both options offer exciting opportunities for schools and fans.
Washington State coach Mike Leach said he’s excited about the idea of the game being played at Levi’s Stadium, though he said not every coach was as on board with the idea as he was.
Washington athletic director Scott Woodward said the neutral game site idea is “a total guess … but potentially a really great market,” noting the large Pac-12 alumni base in the Bay Area.
“I trust the league and what they want to do,” he said. “I have no problem one way or the other.”
The three-hour afternoon session was focused on officiating, according to Arizona coach Rich Rodriguez.
He said one of the biggest talking points was in regard to the NCAA’s 10-second rule proposal, which would have allowed defenses to substitute within the first 10 seconds of the 40-second play clock. Under this proposal, offenses wouldn’t be allowed to snap the ball until the 29-second mark of the play clock, which would’ve severely affected up-tempo teams. The NCAA Football Rules Committee tabled the proposal in March.
Shaw said the 10-second rule was “ridiculous” and doesn’t believe the rule will ever be brought up again.
“It caught everybody by surprise,” Rodriguez said. “We wondered, ‘How did that happen?’ … That was a scary part. We have to make sure in the future that we as coaches do our job to stay involved in anything that may affect the game itself or the people playing the game.”
Coaches also discussed the new rule that will be enforced on quarterback hits, which states that no rushing player is allowed to hit a quarterback at or below the knee when the QB is in a passing posture.
Shaw said the difficulty with that rule is how the officials will decide whether a defensive player is being blocked into a QB or hitting the player on his own.
“That’s the biggest distinction,” he said. “But I think it’s great. We all want to protect the quarterbacks as much as anybody. But we also like hitting quarterbacks. But it’s great for us to know when we can hit them and when we can’t.”
The spring meetings continue Wednesday morning with the coaches and athletic directors from each respective school (though Oregon State athletic director Bob De Carolis won’t be in attendance) meeting from 10 a.m. to noon, and then the athletic directors continuing their meetings until 6:30 p.m.
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