Wisconsin will open both its 2014 and 2016 seasons with neutral site games against LSU, but Badgers athletic director Barry Alvarez had hoped the two-game series would be played under different circumstances.
Alvarez, the long-time Badgers head coach who took over as AD in 2012, told the Wisconsin State Journal at Big Ten Media Days that he tried to schedule a home-and-home series with LSU where the Badgers would travel to Baton Rouge in 2014 and the Tigers would make the trek north to Camp Randall Stadium in 2016.
LSU, however, “wasn’t interested” in playing the games on campus in a traditional home-and-home arrangement, Alvarez said.
“They wouldn’t tell you why. They just weren’t interested.”
Instead, the 2014 contest will be played in Houston, Texas, at NRG Stadium. In 2016, the Badgers and Tigers will meet for the first college football game at Lambeau Field since 1983.
Wisconsin coach Gary Andersen would have preferred the games being played on campus, too.
“As it went forward, it was very obvious that if we were going to play these games, they were going to get played on a neutral field,” Andersen said. “But you would love to play it in Camp Randall. Going down to Death Valley would be a great experience, a very difficult place to play.”
Additionally, Wisconsin will open its 2015 season with another neutral site game against Alabama at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.
Alvarez said the Crimson Tide had no interest in traveling to Wisconsin either, but he is currently in the “infant stages” of setting up a home-and-home arrangement with another SEC school. Before you begin to wonder, Alvarez says it’s not former UW coach Bret Bielema’s Arkansas program.
With the institution of the College Football Playoff in 2014, more emphasis will be placed on strength of schedule. Alvarez, who is on the CFP selection committee, and Andersen said that is the main motivation behind scheduling SEC opponents.
Like Andersen said, these types of games being played on a school’s home turf would create an awful lot of excitement. But at the same time, neutral site games are better than the usual non-competitive non-conference matchups from power conference teams we’ve seen in years past.
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