The Stanford Cardinal football program confirmed reports that they will open the 2017 season against the Rice Owls in Sydney, Australia.
The date of the game hasn’t been announced because the NCAA hasn’t approved the contest taking place a week before the official start to the regular season. Usually, the confirmation process takes approximately six-to-eight weeks before its conclusion. The reason for moving the game a week ahead of the official season-opening date is to accommodate for travel, each school has requested a bye on that Labor Day weekend.
Stanford administrators believe it’s a mere formality before the site and date becomes official. The game was originally scheduled for September 2nd in Houston, now it’s tentatively set for late August. Keep in mind that the Pac-12 expects to announce their 2017 league schedule some time in January.
Showcasing a live college football game in Australia is another attempt to introducing the sport overseas. This has been an undertaking by Colin Scotts, who turned his rugby skills into a full athletic scholarship at the University of Hawaii as a defensive lineman. The goal is to add a new level of exposure to American Football beyond the expanded cable television packages offered by a variety of Australian broadcasting networks over the last two decades. Scotts hopes to make this a yearly event in his home country.
Australia has fallen in love with American sports, as the popularity of the NBA, college and professional football has grown immensely over the years. Each sport has come down under and provided great entertainment through competitive preseason games or instructional seminars. Their popularity seems to have no boundaries in sight.
The matchup between Stanford and Rice isn’t just a financial opportunity for Australia, there is plenty of money to be made by both school’s football programs. Each university is guaranteed a healthy paycheck for their effort to travel 28-hours to play a football game in Sydney. It’s a shame that superstar Christian McCaffrey will be onto the NFL by this point, as he has the starpower to draw an international audience.
To have this game played in Australia, the Owls first had to agree to move the contest because it was apart of their home schedule. Game organizers agreed to compensate Rice for relocating their home game to Sydney. It’s not often the Owls have an opportunity to host a Power Five Conference school in their own stadium. They will remain the designated home team in the 2017 contest.
Stanford will become the second Bay Area school to open the regular season in Australia. The California Golden Bears opened the 2016 campaign with a 51-31 victory over the Hawaii Warriors. The game was played in front of 61, 241 fans at Anz Stadium in Brisbane, Australia. The game could net both schools more than $1 million for participating in the overseas event.
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