SBCC will be playing in a new football conference in 2008 with a new kickoff time for home games.

The Vaqueros, who competed in the Western State Conference for the last 43 years, have joined the Southern California Football Association. The SCFA is comprised of two divisions, with 21 teams and three conferences in the National Divison and 16 teams and two conferences in the American Division.

Santa Barbara was placed in the American Pacific Conference with Antelope Valley, East Los Angeles, Los Angeles Pierce, Los Angeles Southwest, Los Angeles Valley, Santa Monica and West Los Angeles.

“All schools are not able to devote the same resources to athletics and that plays out very significantly in football because of the numbers involved,” said SBCC athletic director Mike Warren. “They looked at the records of football-playing schools for the last six years. They also looked at their resources (budget, number of assistants, student enrollment) and tried to group schools together by their success ratios. That’s how we found ourselves in the fifth of five tiers — because of our won-loss record.”

SBCC, which went 4-6 last year under first-year head coach Craig Moropoulos, is 21-39 in the last six seasons.

“I feel great about the realignment,” said Moropoulous, a former quarterback at Santa Barbara High and SBCC. “I think what they’ve done is fair, based on the last six years. We want to win the conference and we expect to win the conference.”

Warren has seen improvement in recent years.

2008 SBCC Football Schedule Sept. 6 Hancock 6 p.m.
Sept. 13 at Canyons 7 p.m.
Sept. 20 at Ventura 7 p.m. 
Sept. 27 Antelope Valley 6 p.m. 
Oct. 4 L.A. Southwest 6 p.m. 
Oct. 11 Bye  
Oct. 18 at Santa Monica 7 p.m. 
Oct. 25 at L.A. Pierce 7 p.m. 
Nov. 1 West L.A. 6 p.m. 
Nov. 8 L.A. Valley 6 p.m. 
Nov. 15 at East L.A. 6 p.m. 
“In the last two years, maybe even the last three, I felt like we were really getting better,” he said. “We played a very tough schedule and we were making progress. With Craig as head coach last year, it really revitalized our staff and had a big impact on recruiting. This year, with him being hired into a full-time position, it really solidifies our program. I see us on the rise and getting better at a time when we have been placed in a tier where I think we can have some success.”

The National Northern Conference features six former WSC schools — Bakersfield, Canyons, Glendale, Hancock, Moorpark and Ventura — along with Pasadena. SBCC will play three nonconference games against Hancock, Canyons and Ventura, followed by seven American Pacific games. The Vaqueros will travel to powerhouse Canyons for the third-straight season in their second game, on Sept. 13.

Five of the eight teams in the Southern Cal playoffs will be the five conference champions. The other three will be the second-place teams in the National Division or possibly a runner-up in the American, if that team is ranked in the top eight in the final poll.

Meanwhile, the starting time for home games has been pushed back two hours to 6 p.m. SBCC will open the season with a home date against county rival Hancock on Sept. 6, before traveling to Canyons and Ventura. The SCFA decided to eliminate 4 p.m. starts and go with three kickoff times: 1, 6 or 7 p.m.

“The officials were a concern, because some wanted to do two games in a day and they couldn’t if we played at 4 p.m.,” Warren said. “We didn’t want to play at 1 p.m. because heat can be a problem on the artificial turf and Santa Barbara is Santa Barbara — there’s a lot of stuff to do. Plus, you have major college football games on TV at 1 p.m.”

Moropoulos said he had no issue with the times.

“I’m very happy about the new start time,” he said. “I remember playing at night when I was playing here and it was great.”

With finals coming up, SBCC will complete spring football practice Friday. Summer drills get under way June 16.

Dave Loveton is Santa Barbara City College’s sports information specialist.