Some Pac-12 bands may see less performance time on game days due to the athletic conference’s trial program to shorten football games this season. The Pac-12 plans to test a combination of shortened halftimes, condensed breaks with adjusted commercial formats, and an expedited kickoff one minute after the listed airtime at all non-conference games being shown on the Pac-12 Networks. The reduction of halftime from 20 minutes to 15 minutes would need to be approved by both teams. All the changes aim to reduce game length by 10 minutes and broadcast time by 15 minutes.
The games that will test these changes include: New Mexico State at Arizona State, Northern Arizona at Arizona, Hawaii at UCLA, Weber State at California (Berkeley), Montana at Washington, Northern Colorado at Colorado, and potentially Nevada at Washington State if it ends up airing on Pac-12 Networks.
Some bands in the Pac-12 feel upset by the changes. “Because Weber State isn’t bringing a band, it will probably have no impact on us; however, if these changes become permanent, when we have visiting bands, it most certainly will,” says Dr. Robert Calonico, director of bands at the University of California, Berkeley. “All the colleagues I’ve spoken to about this feel that we [bands] are being punished. It is just ridiculous to me that the Pac-12 feels that a five-minute reduction at halftime will, in their words, speed up the game.”
And bands are preparing for some potential changes in their game-day activities. “The shortened halftime looks as if it is not going to result in me having to cut tunes from the show, but it will result in the band having to run onto the field rather than using a coordinated entrance,” says Dr. Brad McDavid, director of the University of Washington Husky Marching Band. “It also will drastically limit the length of the feature for our twirler and/or cheer squad. However, the cuts in the length of the media timeouts and the quarter breaks—as well as the no-huddle offense that more teams are using—could have an even greater impact on the amount of time we are given to play during the game.”
Andrew Walker, Pac-12 vice president of public affairs and head of communications, gave the following statement:
“Bands are an incredibly important part of the university fabric and Pac-12 member sporting events. In an effort to address concerns we have heard from many fans (both in stadium and on television) on the length of football games, we will conduct a pilot to trial certain measures to shorten games for a few early-season non-conference games, including shortened TV breaks, shortened kickoff times, and in certain cases slightly shorter halftimes. This is a pilot program only for the moment, and only after full feedback and consultation with members and evaluation of many metrics, will we collectively as a conference determine what, if any, next steps should be taken.”