So the new Pac-10 brass is now openly talking about expanding the conference. From the Daily News today:
Scott (Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott) said there have been "no serious discussions" with any schools. He said the primary factor in the decision will be finding schools that fit into the conference culturally and academically.
"I know that's of paramount importance to our presidents and chancellors," Scott said. "There are other economic and athletic considerations such as increased costs that would be involved, increased travel that would be involved, splitting the pie in more ways.
"You look at how that is offset against potentially greater revenue, potentially greater exposure into more markets, possible recruiting opportunities, the impact on media negotiations generally. There's a whole analysis you would go through in terms of cost benefit."
I think those factors sound about right. The chatter is hot about Utah and Utah State joining the conference. Honestly this is something that doesn't get me very excited.
I personally have always been ambivalent about the idea of expanding the Pac-10. I like it the way it is right now. I do believe the Pac-10 needs to adapt to sign of the times and work to secure meaningful TV contracts (which the previous commission did a horrible job securing). However, I am not sure that goal entails rushing to prostitute Pac-10 out like other power conferences so that it could have a championship game? More thoughts including a poll after the flip.
To me the reason why Pac-10 has always been so special is because we have those end of the year natural rivalries between Southern Cal-UCLA, Cal-Stanford, ASU-UA, OSU-UO, and UDub-WSU. There is something magical about the last regular season game for every Pac-10 team (sans SC which sometimes has ND as the last game) that gets so fired up for the inter-state, inter-region, or in our case the inter-city games. That's what makes the conference fun. Then again I guess I am too much of a traditionalist, because part of me wishes the Rose Bowl just dumped it's alliance with the BCS nonsense, and went back to the old arrangement of Big-10, Pac-10 showdowns.
I realize an addition of Utah and Utah State keeps that symmetry that current exists in the Pac-10. Yet I still don't care for it. I am not sure it is all that exciting to think about Pac-10 road trips to Salt Lake City and Logan (I mean comeon). Not sure adding these schools make any sense from the TV perspective because Utah's TV market doesn't seem all that big of a deal considering the low population density in that state. Moreover, it doesn't make any sense to add these schools from recruiting standpoint because Pac-10 schools are doing just fine recruiting in that region without them. Last year it was UCLA nabbing the number one high school recruit out of Utah (XSF) and this year it was Oregon (getting Heimuli over UCLA).
Count me among those fundamentally opposed to expansion, mostly for this reason: The only benefit gained by adding two more schools to the conference is to increase football revenue. I understand football drives the money-making bus in the world of college athletics, through both television contracts and bowl games, but such a move does nothing to enhance the conference in any other meaningful way. Without getting into the long, drawn-out, self-righteous, moralistic reasons for my opposition, I'll just leave it at this: It would undeniably detract from just about everything I love about the set-up of our conference, both in football and in every other sport.
Essentially, you'd be selling your soul to appease a football system that might not be around in 10 years, anyway. And I think that's pretty dumb, especially when I'm not convinced that adding two teams is going to increase the value of the product enough to offset the loss of what makes the Pac-10 unique.
Can't agree more to that. So count me against firmly against Pac-10 expansion with just schools from Utah. Yes, I am not all that interested in having BYU in the Pac-10 either. Provo is again not exactly a great place for a road trip and culturally BYU is not going to be a fit for Pac-10 conference.
Now, if the Pac-10 were dead set on expanding, I think the most logical way to expand it would be to add two prominent schools from another relatively populated Western State with a big metro region that has a high profile college football culture, so that the conference can be symmetrical in it's regional divide, and maintain it's end of the season rivalries. If there were to be a Pac-10 expansion, to me Colorado-Colorado State would be the other logical choice. CU-CSU's fierce and intense natural rivalry would reach a whole new dimension under the glare of the Pac-10. The addition of those two teams would also add Denver as another huge Metropolis TV market in the conference in addition to Seattle, Bay Area, LA, and Phoenix. Still this just an idea since I am not sure whether Colorado or Colorado State meets Pac-10 standards as research institutions.
Anyway, I will attach a poll to this post to see where everyone here is on this issue with regards to Utah schools (Note to Utah fans, don't try to game this poll by posting this on other message boards, we are just interested in feedback from readers here). I imagine we are going to have lot more stories on this topic in the coming months.