Homecoming is special for fans. The alumni and students mingle during tailgates and regale in stories of campus life. It is a time for boosters to open up their checkbooks and show their undying support for their alma mater. They have come home, if only for five or six hours.
It is also a time when a win is expected. Schedule a patsy and all is okie dokie. Schedule a BCS contender and everything is inky stinky. This year three Pac-12 teams threw out common sense and scheduled on a whimsy.
Oregon State, USC and Utah all have Stanford scheduled for their homecoming games. Guys, you are doing it all wrong. No fan base wants to watch the Tree (pictured above) dancing around the field while Stanford's nutty band members insult their team and/or school on Homecoming—even if they do play great music.
Some Pac-12 teams are doing it right.
Three Pac-12 teams selected some puzzling homecoming opponents.
Stanford plays UCLA. The Cardinal may regret that despite beating the Bruins in back-to-back weeks last year. In the Pac-12 Championship, Stanford beat UCLA 27-24 after beating the Bruins in the preceding week 35-17. Third time's the charm?
Arizona plays UCLA as well. Last year UCLA spanked the Wildcats 66-10. Washington State would have been a better choice than UCLA.
Arizona State plays Washington. Strangely, the Sun Devils passed over everyone's favorite homecoming opponent, Colorado.
Speaking of the Buffaloes, they play the Arizona Wildcats. To be fair, Colorado does not have a chalk on its schedule except for Central Arkansas on September 7. Even then, an FCS team is not a guaranteed win. Last year Colorado lost 30-28 to Sacramento State. The Buffs get a hall pass on scheduling for the next few years until head coach Mike MacIntyre can right the sinking ship.
Oregon State, USC and Utah may all be underdogs hosting Stanford. Labeled 'underdog' at your own Homecoming Game is almost blasphemous for the most ardent college football fans.
The last time Oregon State beat Stanford was in 2009. For USC it was in 2008. Utah is in its third year as a Pac-12 member and has played Stanford five times since 1902. The Utes are 2-3 against the Cardinal with their last win in 1996. Stanford is a lot better than that 7-5 team.
All of that minutia aside, Utah hosts Colorado on November 30. Late November is cold in Salt Lake City. But Utah only returns 12 starters this year. With Colorado available, there should not have been any debate over whether or not nippy weather could take the fun out of putting six touchdowns on the scoreboard.
Happy alumni walking away from a homecoming game is important to a school. Not all alumni have the luxury of attending every home game, much less watching the games on television. Homecoming is usually a priority for alumni wishing to reconnect with former classmates. They expect a win after traveling to the games, spending money on spirit wear and clinking glasses with their fraternity brothers.
It is the perfect time for athletic departments to solicit donations.
For Oregon State, USC and Utah, that may be a tough sell. But, if they win...