Why the Cal-Hawaii Season Opener is Being Played in Sydney

The expansion of college football outside of US borders has been happening for a number of years now. One of the early games overseas took place in 1988 when Boston College beat Army 38-24. But only in recent years has this become a more permanent arrangement. Games in Dublin have been taking place regularly since 2012. The aim of these games is attracting Irish nationals to the games by having college teams with Irish backgrounds represented. So far we’ve seen Notre Dame appear twice and Boston College return in 2016 to face Georgia Tech.

Why the Cal-Hawaii Season Opener is Being Played in Sydney

Games in Australia

Previously, BYU and Colorado State played a game in Melbourne in 1987. But this year has seen the interest in growing the game re-ignite with Cal and Hawaii playing in Sydney. Naturally for the NCAA and college football in general, more exposure to foreign markets could help improve the income of each conference. Not forgetting the potential benefits as well as the programs themselves if it proves to be successful. The NFL has shown that there is an appetite for football outside of North America. The fact they sell out London three times per year with pro games is testament to this.

But specifically why have Cal and Hawaii agreed to be the guinea pigs for a game in Australia to start the 2016 season?

For Hawaii, the reasons are quite obvious and were addressed in a previous piece about the toughest jobs in college football. The Rainbow Warriors generally look to play lucrative non-conference games against power five opponents to help off-set the high financial costs the program incurs from playing in such a remote location compared to the rest of the college football world.

But the other reason is that playing a game in Sydney isn’t much different to playing a road game against Michigan. Which is where Hawaii are off to next for their second game of the season. It would take Hawaii a similar amount of time to travel to either so playing a potentially lucrative game in Australia makes sense. This is especially true when it inconveniences their opponent more than themselves in terms of travel and time zones.

Cal’s Schedule

The California Golden Bears are no stranger to season openers in foreign lands having played against Washington State in Tokyo in 1987. For Cal, the schedule is far better setup to help them succeed whilst playing a game in Australia. They have a bye the week after this game, rather than a trip to Michigan like Hawaii, and then face San Diego State. So in theory, any after effects from the immense traveling to Sydney should have long worn off before they open their PAC-12 campaign.


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