Did Block/Guerrero Sign Off On A 12-Pac UCLA Schedule Without All California Schools?

Did Gene Block and Dan Guerrero sign off on giving up our annual Bay Area trip for the sake of second tier TV market? Photo Credit: Telemachus

Larry Scott has let Utah in the conference and apparently it is going to be split up in North-South division like this:

North

Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, California

South

UCLA, Southern Cal, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah

Apparently the Pac-10 is going with this arrangement because according to the Denver Post that is how Colorado preferred it:

Playing in a south division instead of a north with the Bay Area, Oregon and Washington schools was a must for Colorado to accept an invitation. Its largest out-of-state alumni base is in southern California.

"That is a huge boost for us," Bohn said. "The southern division for the University of Colorado provides many opportunities that are keys to reaching our alumni to our recruiting and to enhance media exposure that connects best to the Denver market."

As cool as it is to have the Buffs in our conference, it is kind of unseemly to have a newbie dictate a conference that wouldn't exist without Southern Cal and UCLA. I wonder if Gene Block and Dan Guerrerro signed off on this arrangement because if they did, they should be held accountable for helping destroy the identity of this conference.

Let's note two of glaring issues that stick out right away:

  • The arrangement essentially ensures that UCLA and Southern Cal will never play a game again with a Rose Bowl on the line. From now on that game will basically be about getting into the Conference Championship game and that is about it. So much for "tradition."
  • The arrangement will also take away our annual Bay Area trip to either Stanford or California in favor of annual trip to either Boulder or Salt Lake City. So much for making sure those thousands of Bruin alums who live in the Bay Area get to see at least one UCLA football game per year. So much for keeping all those students in mind who always circle the annual game in Bay Area as the biggest road trip of the season.

It is difficult to imagine a UCLA football season without having both Stanford and California on the schedule.  That wouldn't be much of a "Pac-10" or whatever conference.  So I sure hope the report above is not true and that the final arrangement break down something along the "zipper plan" which would at least preserve the traditional rivalries while ensuring the four California schools are kept together.

Interestingly Avinash from California Golden Blogs think that the North-South alignment helps Southern Cal and UCLA:

The biggest beneficiaries athletically have to be USC & UCLA. The two schools no longer have to make their dreaded northwest stops to the Oregon schools every year (and now with Washington rising, they don't have to worry about them either until the conference title) and who knows what happens with their Bay Area ties. Utah would be their most daunting challenger, but it's a far cry from the madness of Autzen or Husky Stadium. Both of those schools with their vast Los Angeles and Southern California recruiting pools are in prime position to dominate their division if they have the coaching to make it work.

The biggest losers have to be us (well the Furd too, but no one cares about the Furd). We do have to make the northwest stops, and even though we've won at every one of those stadiums the past decade, those are FAR tougher places to play than the LA schools or the Arizonas. We've only won once in Autzen, and we haven't won in Seattle since 2005.

But the biggest issue for us would be the dissolution of our traditional matchups with USC and UCLA. If we move to an eight game conference schedule, there's no way we'd play each other every year anymore. A nine game schedule allows for flexibility (maybe play both of them with one flex opponent, or one of them alternating years?), but the mere possibility of losing these rivalries would be a tough pill to swallow. The Northwest schools will want their LA matchups too, and there just aren't enough games to go around. Someone is going to lose in this scenario, and Cal could be hurt.

Also from SoCalOski:

Losing the annual Ucla and $C games each year is exactly why I felt expanding to a Pac 12 would be two steps forward and one step back. Those are at least as traditional a rival for us as Furd, and aside from geography, possibly almost as intense.

The idea that we would skip playing them on certain years is just a travesty, and simply not worth the conference expansion. You young-uns may not realize it now, but sometimes tradition actually is more important than money and exposure.

Hopefully the rumors of locking in the SoCal schools each year and rotating the other scrubs are true. I honestly don’t give a wet slap about missing a game against the Zonas or the new kids. They never were rivals. But Ucla and $C are.

So they are not all that excited about this either. Even though Avinash thinks it helps us, I am not sure if that advantage is really worth it at the expense of tradition. Pac-10 is not Pac-10 for UCLA without having all California schools on schedule every year. That makes zero sense.

I know lot of Bruin alums who are going to be incredibly upset if we miss out on annual Bay Area trips to take on either California or Stanford and instead hang out in front of 40,000 something Utes in Salt Lake City. Talk about destroying the identity of true Pac-10 conference. If Gene Block, a former Virginia administrator with not a lot of experience with West Coast football culture signed off on this possibility, he should have to answer tough questions during his next Bay Area alumni function.

This not only impacts the alums, it also impacts the students. I remember while we were students, we relished the annual road trip up to Berkeley or Palo Alto. If this reported arrangement is a reality that is all gone. That is not good at all.

We are going to need some detailed explanation from Dan Guerrero and Gene Block about their reasoning behind going along with any such plan (if this turns out to be a reality). The heart of college sports is all about tradition. When that is thrown away there won't be much to distinguish it with its stale and soulless professional counterparts. We will need explanation from UCLA officials why they didn't push for something like the "zipper plan" which reportedly didn't have much "traction" among Pac-10 officials.

As for Larry Scott, he better come through with a TV contract that justifies this kind of screwing around with conference makeup. Not only he has to come through with a monster TV K, he will also have to show sustained and discernible growth in next 5 seasons. If the results are mixed, he will forever be tagged as the tennis dude from Harvard, who ruined the Pac-10 conference (after all it was another Harvard guy - Al Carnesale - who was directly responsible for screwing UCLA football with hiring of Karl Dorrell). You can see why we don't trust those guys all that much.

GO BRUINS.

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