Slowly things seem to be settling down just a bit on college athletics news front. Due to the latest development on the Big-12 front, the conference expansion chatter as we expected turned out to be mostly hot air not amounting to all that much (except $ for Texas). Larry Scott, the Pac-10 Commissioner does deserve credit for thinking outside the box and getting after it a bit, but at the end of the day I keep thinking of what Coach always told us, "don't mistake activity for achievement."
So I will start with a bit of a scheduling note. The LA Times noted yesterday that UCLA official would contact Nebraska officials Monday to see if the Cornhuskers wish to withdraw from a home-and-home series, starting in 2012. The reason for UCLA's query is a potential "neutral site" date with defending National Champion Alabama:
The Bruins still want the game, but an opportunity to play defending national champion Alabama in a neutral-site season opener in 2012 has developed.
Playing Nebraska and Alabama in the same season would be a brutal nonconference road, especially if Texas and Oklahoma join the "Pac-Whatever." But if the Cornhuskers opt out, the Bruins and Crimson Tide probably will have a date.
A date with Alabama would be pretty sweet. Tide fans are already excited about potential revenge. But I would also hate to give a home and home date with a Big-12 program like Nebraska. As for this move, always appreciate the fact UCLA never backs down from scheduling anyone. Note we have had crazier scheduling in the past like in 2000 when for some reason we decided to take on both Michigan and Alabama in the same year (and won both of those contests). Yet in this case given the current state of our redeveloping program, playing both of them in the same year would not be a smart idea.
Moreover, we will have to see what they mean by a "neutral site." A game in the new Giants/Jets stadium would mean a ‘neutral site' game. A game in Chicago's Soldier's Field would mean a ‘neutral site' game. However, a game in either Dallas or Atlanta within or inside SEC's backyard shouldn't be construed as a ‘neutral site' game. So, I hope UCLA officials are moving about this with a little caution. Playing Alabama and interacting with the great fanbase sounds like a lot of fun. However, games should be scheduled in a way, that makes sense for the overall (re)development of our program. More after the jump.
As mentioned at the top, the so called dream scenario of expansion with Texas teams is all but dead. Colorado is in the fold, which we are all excited about. Now it looks like everyone is in a bit of rush to ram Utah into our conference. Apparently Pac-10 is "under no pressure" to add Utah, yet reporters like Jon Wilner expects the conference to "act fairly quickly":
* The Pac-10 is not under any pressure to invite Utah, but I'd expect it to act fairly quickly - there's no reason to wait, really.
When the Buffs and Utes join in 2012, the conference will be split into two six-team divisions and feature a championship game worth $10 million annually or more.
I'm not sure how the divisions will be split but have been advocating a "Zipper Plan" on the Hotline for months as the best way to satisfy the Northwest schools, which don't want to be cut off from Los Angeles.
* The per-team revenue split in a 12-school conference will be far greater than the current, grossly-undervalued total of $8-9 million but also well below the $20 million figure that was projected for a Pac-16.
How would the conference shape up in Wilner's "zipper plan" for the Pac-10:
The scenario I've always envisioned would entail splitting the league like a zipper, with the natural rivals in different divisions - but with the schedule arranged in a manner that allows them to meet every season.
In other words, something like:
* Arizona State, UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Washington and Utah in one division.
* Arizona, USC, Stanford, Oregon State, WSU and Colorado in the other.
The nine-game conference football schedule would involve playing every team in your division, plus your natural rival, plus three teams in the other division.
And I'd imagine there's a way to rig the football schedule so that each NW school was guaranteed a certain number of home games with/roadtrips to USC and UCLA within a three- or four-year scheduling cycle.
Interestingly at the time Wilner went on to conclude that conference expansion was "unliklely." Well so much for that.
What I don't understand is the rush to add Utah. I remain unconvinced about the benefits of adding Utah to our conference. All the projections are just that: projections. I don't really buy the fact that Utah can bring the Salt Lake City market into Pac-10. The state still belongs to BYU. Besides the benefit here will really go to Utah, who will get to share Pac-10 revenues, while not bringing all that much into our conference.
I certainly don't see UCLA fans getting excited about taking road trips to Salt Lake City. We don't even bother to go to Pullman despite being few hours from a beautiful city like Seattle. So what makes someone think that we would be rolling into Salt Lake City for the sake of enjoying Utah's outdoors.
Utah fans will also always be more excited about potential "conference" games against UCLA than vice versa. Games like that are always about dealing with a team with perpetual chips on their collective shoulder. We never get anything out of those games.
Oh and I have to LOL about all this "excitement" around a "conference championship" game? Where is this magically ‘championship game' we are going to hold? In Vegas? The AT&T
Comerica Park? The Coliseum? I am sure it is going to be just as exciting and riveting as the stupid basketball conference tournament we host every year at Staples (and no I don't think rotating this tournament in other hubs will get us all that excited about it either).
So consider me extremely unexcited about an expansion that includes Utah. Right now it feels like a forced marriage and I find all of it kind of repulsive. If Pac-10 is so anxious about generating revenues, they need to look at creative ways to put together a viable TV network. As Class of 66 noted we already have the markets but the problems concerning revenues and exposure are rooted in the following issues:
First, we have yet to market west coast sports very well. We play an exciting brand of football and basketball and don't take advantage of it in promoting TV viewership.
Second, and perhaps the biggest problem, it has been almost impossible to find our games, nationwide because of the terrible coverage we've had due to the weak contract. Can anyone say "Versus"?
I don't see how adding Utah will automatically help us solve those issues.
Lastly, speaking of "issues," stumbled into this excellent hypo - entitled ‘the shoplifting scenario' - someone flagged on Bruin Report Online's general football board:
[Y]ou take your 10 yr old son with you to the grocery store, buy your groceries and return home. a couple hours later you see him eating a candy bar and you know you didn't buy it for him nor did you have any in the house.
The next day you go to the toy store with your 12 yr old daughter, you buy some some toys and return home and a couple hours later you see her playing with a barbie doll you didn't buy for her and know she didn't have one at the house before leaving for the toy store.
As a "parent", should you have:
A. taken your son / daughter right back to the grocery / toy stores when you first observed the offense, paid for the candy bar / toys and let management know that it wouldn't happen again and administer the proper punishment to fit the offense yourself
B. turn a blind eye in hopes that it was a one time event and that it wouldn't happen again
C. point the finger at the grocery / toy stores for selling candy bars / toys and continue to let the same scenario repeat itself
It's a question of ethics (parental control some might call it), right?
A couple days later there is a knock on your door, it's the local police dept. asking you, the parent, about the events that have taken place the last couple of days, it appears they have some good "intel" (video, witnesses, etc...) that your kids have been "shop-lifting."
There have been some interesting responses on what the parent should have done in that (instant classic) thread. If you have other ideas, feel free to chime in our thread as well.