The wild ride that is the Southwestern Athletic Conference championship game took yet another turn Wednesday morning.
The SWAC title game — at one point wiped out altogether, only to be brought back, then originally scheduled to return to Birmingham, Alabama — will now be played at the home stadium of the team with the highest ranking.
The game is still slated for 3:30 p.m. Dec. 1, live on ESPNU and the WatchESPN app.
In a news release, SWAC commissioner Charles McClelland said the move was primarily motivated by the potential strain of a doubleheader if UAB hosts the Conference USA title game. The Blazers, whose home stadium is Legion Field, are in first place and could create the nightmare scenario of attempting to play two Division I championship games on the same day in the same venue.
“When the probability to play the SWAC Championship game as part of a doubleheader at Legion Field started to become a reality, we quickly recognized that playing two championship games in one day would not be a viable option," Mclelland said. "The conference office then began to proactively seek an alternative site for the championship game.
“The rich tradition and heritage of our conference requires us to showcase its unique legacy with this game in a way that allows us to maximize game atmosphere, overall attendance, all while having it featured as the premier attraction. It was clear that sharing the venue with UAB on that day would diminish our attempts at achieving those objectives.”
The move could be a major advantage for Southern, which sits atop the Western Division and is in control of its own destiny.
The Jaguars (5-3, 4-1) lost to Alcorn State, the first-place team in the East, so if both teams were to win out, Alcorn (7-2, 6-1) would host the title game.
If, however, Southern were to finish with a better conference record than Alcorn, the Jaguars could host the title game in A.W. Mumford Stadium.
Southern is idle Saturday.
SU Athletic Director Roman Banks said the school would be prepared to host the additional game should the chance arrive.
Banks said the game would be treated as an additional home game for the host school, meaning Southern season ticket holders would get first availability to buy tickets.
"The logistics don't change," Banks said. "We put a plan in place to where we don't react and are prepared for any changes. But there will be some things with the intensity and the time turnaround that we'd have to be ready for."
While the move is only scheduled for the 2018 season, it is possible this could be the new method for future games.
The 2018 SWAC Championship had been canceled altogether at the end of last season by then-commissioner Duer Sharp.
The game was held annually in Birmingham from 1999-2012 but moved to Houston's NRG Stadium in 2013, when SU defeated Jackson State for the championship in Dawson Odums' first full year in charge. The title game, however, lost a significant amount of money the past several years.
McClelland was installment as the new head of the SWAC this summer. One of his first major actions was to bring the game back, and to return it to Birmingham.
Its location has been a hot topic ever since, with the idea of future games being played at home venues a popular option among some.
No final decision has been made on the location of the game beyond this season, league spokesman Peter Holehan said.
This current model follows that of Conference USA, which has played at the home site of the top team since 2005.
Southern has played in five SWAC championships since the game's inception in 1999, winning three times.