The Pac-10 is seeking to expand for the first time in 33 years when they last added my two alma maters, the University of Arizona and Arizona State University (sometimes referred to as Temple Normal Women’s Teacher College).
Speculation has been rampant with initial reports announcing the the University of Utah had accepted and will become the 11th member, but those were quickly shot down (sort of).
Not since the Texas legislature blackmailed both the University of Texas and Texas A&M University into retracting their acceptance into the Pac-10 in 1994 have rumors been so rampant as to possible candidates.
The Pac-10 is the premiere all-sports conference in the country, more importantly, they have the most athletic and superior football programs as well. No conference comes close with NFL-level talent to that of the Pac-10’s.
Why the expansion?
The current television contract expires soon and with the dearth of college football revenue sky-rocketing the Pac-10 wants to cash on their product. With a new commissioner and negotiations for a new contract to begin within two years, the Pac-10 has made it known that they are open for business (so to speak).
The college football blogosphere has gone into overdrive on breaking speculation of the criteria and candidates. Let me say that, unless the variables have changed since I last was in Pac-10 country, they are looking for a school with strong academic credentials as well as a strong overall athletic program. So yes, football is important, but it will not be THE factor.
For example, look at the SEC, they invited both mediocre football programs South Carolina and Arkansas, and that hasn’t hurt their bottom line.
Secondly, the Pac-10 is big on tradition. We like our schools to have traveling rivals, ie, USC-UCLA, UofA-ASU, Stanford-Cal, Oregon-Oregon State, and Washington-Washington State. This may be tweaked or altogether downgraded significantly due to the current college landscape. So if you say Nebraska, then throw in Kansas, since they’re geographically in the same area of the country.
Finally, what will their economic impact be. Big city, nationwide following, etc., ie, what can they bring to the table.
So here are my top picks, in order of most likely to not so likely:
The following three scenarios are the most possible.
1. Colorado and Utah. They are culturally West-Coast, not Midwestern or Southern. Strong academics, athletics, and a beautiful college town (Boulder yes, Salt Lake ok). Would fit in nicely within the Pac-10 as far as geography. CU’s rival is Colorado State, but don’t count on CSU being invited along with CU, though stranger things have happened (get back to this later). Denver is a growing city and the reputation of CU nationwide is strong. Sorry Big XII, you aren’t that special for CU to stay, reality can be cruel. Plus Utah has been winning BCS bowl games left and right with impunity.
2. Texas A&M and Texas. They supersede the first two in athletics, academics, geography, economic impact, natural rivals and tradition, but these are Big Dogs that want their own Texas-centric conference. Though with sour memories of the imploding South West Conference in mind and the Big Ten eyeballing Big-XII programs, they may jump and Go West!
To be honest, #1 is the one that will happen. Texas A&M-Texas want to be their own Big Dogs in THEIR conference, not USC-UCLA’s conference. But if the Big XII dissolves, say “Hola dude!”
These next three are not as possible, but it could happen:
3. Colorado and Colorado State. Rivalry is strong, but CSU just isn’t “there” yet.
4. TCU and SMU. Same as #3, SMU isn’t “there” yet, plus TCU wants to be in a Texas-centric conference, ie, the Big-XII.
5. Utah and Boise State. If everything falls apart above and the Pac-10 becomes desperate, then these two will have to do.
6. There’s a less than 5% chance of #’s 3-5 happening, but I’ll throw them up there anyway for fun.
7. Sorry, Hawaii, Fresno State, San Diego State, UNLV, BYU and Nevada. Pac-10 won’t admit anymore California schools, Hawaii is just too small, and UNLV and Nevada have the most promise in all of college football, but have failed miserably these past ten years to capitalize on the highest rate of population and business growth in the country. BYU fans don’t spend well on the road and their academics don’t stand up.
8. The rest, maybe in another 33 years some of you all will be considered. Don’t lose hope, Michigan and Ohio State would look good in the Pac-16 come 2043. 😉
- The Pac-10 may even expand to 14 teams, but this is the Pac-10 where tradition is taken more seriously than the Ivy League schools (c’mon, you go to a Wisconsin tailgate you get beer and brats, you go to a UCLA tailgate you get wine and cheese, no joke). So the new Pac-10 commissioner, Larry Scott, is going to have to do one HELL of a sales job to convince the stodgy-tradition bound university presidents to get them to approve of two teams much less four.
- And who said the Big Ten only wants to expand to 12? Insiders say they are looking to Nebraska and Kansas, in addition to Missouri to become the Big-14. So figure in that and Texas A&M and Texas may be taking second looks at the Pac-10 not wanting to be in a depleted conference of the Big XII (and possibly dissolve).
- Big XII. You guys were never more than a glorified Big-8. Be satisfied picking apart the Mountain West Conference for BYU and TCU and possibly Houston and SMU from Conference USA (in that order).
- The Big East will be renamed the Big Least if the Big Ten looks eastward to expand as they swallow up either Pittsburgh, Rutgers, or Syracuse (in that order).
Texas A&M and Texas is the most ideal for the Pac-10. But Texas is being courted by the Big Ten.
Realistically, It’s going to be Colorado or nothing.
My bets, Colorado becomes the 11th member. If Colorado declines, forget Utah, Pac-10 wants big and they won’t take anything short of Boulder or Austin. But if Colorado accepts then Utah comes in on their coattails*! All this will happen before the end of this year. Because the Pac-10 wants their lineup set up by the time television contract negotiations come around
You heard it hear first!
And the name of the new Pacific 10 conference?
The 12 PAC!
* If Texas turns down the Big Ten and Colorado takes the Pac-10 offer, look for Texas to think twice and possibly jump in the Pac-10 with Colorado. Unless of course the Texas legislature gets their mangy nose in it again and you could see Texas A&M come in with Texas. And either Colorado gets their offer rescinded or the Pac-10 stays at 13 or asks for a 14th member. Which would be another pandora’s box of either Utah, Oklahoma or Nebraska.