After initially deciding against switching sidelines on Faurot Field, the Missouri football team will indeed move to the west sideline for the 2018 season. The ongoing construction of Memorial Stadium's new south end zone complex factored into the move, helped by a waiver from the Southeastern Conference. The Tigers have been on the east sideline since the 2001 season, Gary Pinkel's first year as head coach.
"After discussing this issue more than a year ago, it was our intent to switch sidelines and make the necessary seating changes at the same time the South End Zone facility came on-line in 2019, however, as we've game-planned for 2018 with our staff, construction team and the Southeastern Conference, we believe that this move must be made in 2018 to avoid logistical challenges that would be problematic for both teams and the game officials," MU athletics director Jim Sterk said. "Our goal is to provide the safest possible environment for our student-athletes, coaches, game officials and fans, and making this change will eliminate the teams from having to cross the field upon entry and exit to Faurot Field, something that we were strongly urged to avoid by both the SEC and our game management staff. This move also ensures that the heart of the construction site will not have to shut down for our home games which will help the project stay on track."
With the south end of the stadium under construction, Missouri will use portable trailers as their game-day locker rooms this season while visiting teams will continue to be placed in the southeastern corner of the stadium. Both teams will enter and exit the field from the same tunnel, which will be divided by a 7-foot fence with a windscreen cover. The south end zone complex is slated to open for the 2019 season.
For Mizzou to make the move for the upcoming season, the school had to receive a waiver from the SEC's Commissioner's Regulations, which don't allow visiting team benches to be stationed in front of the home student section. The SEC granted the waiver based on the ongoing construction project as well as "the natural buffer that exists between the visiting team bench and student sections at Memorial Stadium, the lack of alternate routes available to prevent the teams from crossing paths when entering/exiting the field and Mizzou's commitment to secure the visiting team bench area," according to MU's release.
"We are grateful for the assistance we received from Commissioner (Greg) Sankey and his staff, and believe that we have an effective plan in place to provide a safe and secure bench area for visiting teams at Memorial Stadium this season," Sterk said.
In 2019, Mizzou will adjust its student seating sections to comply with the SEC rule. When MU initially considered moving the sidelines before the 2017 season, student groups resisted. Tigers coach Barry Odom believes his team will have a competitive advantage on the west side. One, the sun shines on the east sideline during day games and puts the west sideline in the shade in much cooler conditions. Also, coaching signals on the east sideline can be exposed to opposing coaches in the press box.