The Pac-10 Conference Should Expand And Include Someone Like Utah Or Boise State

It's Now Or Never For Potential PAC-10 Expansion

2/23/09 in NCAAF   |   briannel1318   |   respect

In the largest revenue producing and highest profile sport the Pac-10’s current model has set itself up for failure via complacency. Limiting progress, failing to adapt and leaving large sums of money on the table.

A typical year may go something like this: USC starts in preseason top-five, but falters on a conference road game and is held out of the championship game in favor of teams with identical records. USC wins the conference and receives the league's lone BCS berth.

USC pummels a markedly inferior Big Ten team in the Rose Bowl for a top-five finish. The Trojans divide their BCS spoils with the other nine teams.

Stale, predictable, and underachieving.

(Forgive my over-usage of USC in this article. It is in part designed to convey the predictability and boredom that has become Pac-10 football)

 

2008-'09

The 2008-'09 Pac-10 football season may be viewed as another successful season capped—saved may be a better term—by an astonishing 5-0 Bowl Season. The Pac-10 put a beat-down in the Bowls on top representatives from nearly every major conference—Big Ten, Big 12, Big East, ACC, and the MWC.

Impressive but underachieving. Oregon was the only underdog. A 5-0 record is impressive, but it may also be the result of weak bowl alignments.  

Either way, 2008-09 offered little progress. Another year, another champion confined to the Rose Bowl while three other conferences—including a less-than-stellar Big 10—received lucrative jackpots from a second BCS berth.

 

National Championship Aspirations

As it stands, USC would almost have to go undefeated or maintain a better record than premier BCS champs for a sniff at the Crystal Ball. The Pac’s distinct Round Robin system may be traditional and beloved by coaches, but it is prohibitive to BCS success.

Each team is inherently placed on the road in conference play at least four or five times every year. Even the best teams would falter at one point. Making it difficult to sustain a strong enough record to for a national championship and/or a second at-large bid (2005 Oregon, 2007 Arizona St. come to mind).

 

Second BCS Bowl

No other conference has seemingly been hit harder by BCS buster party crashing. In 2004, a very deserving Aaron Rodgers-led Cal team was denied BCS entry in favor of the Texas Longhorns.

While much of the attention centered on the Cal-Texas debate, it should be pointed out that the other at-large spot went to undefeated Utah—the first ever BCS buster, starting a new trend.

Since the BCS expanded to the fifth Bowl in 2006 and made the path easier for non-BCS teams, they also made it easier for second tier BCS conferences to get in an additional bid.

Since then, the Pac-10 has failed miserably while the Big 10 has had two BCS Bowl berths in each of the last three years. Is the Big 10 really on a higher plane?

In fact, no other Pac-10 team besides USC has even cracked the BCS jackpot since Washington St. in 2002-03—and they are a long ways from going back.

Within that same time frame Utah, Hawaii, and Boise St. have all cashed in. Is it safe to say that a Utah or a Boise St. has an easier path to the BCS than Oregon, Arizona St. or Cal? A compelling case that may continue to erode the Pac-10 monopoly on top western recruiting.

 

The Emergence of the MWC

The MWC is headed for the BCS. It may not be until 2012 or further beyond that but it’s a strong possibility. The MWC is now 2-0 in BCS Bowls. Compare that to the ACC (2-9) or the Big 10 (2-5 since ’04). Utah’s commanding win over Alabama has prompted serious discussion for MWC acceptance.

MWC entrance as the seventh BCS conference could prove detrimental to the Pac-10. It would make the a second berth improbable, threaten to change recruiting dynamics in the west and force the Pac to share what little attention western football seems to receive.

It would also mean that the smaller MWC conference would enjoy roughly the same BCS spoils as their larger and more popular neighbor.

Current litigation efforts may force the BCS hands. In turn, an easy compromise would be to strengthen ranks of the MWC. Could you imagine the MWC with Tulsa, Fresno St. and Boise St.? Colorado? I know it’s a stretch, but there is potential the MWC could narrow the gap considerably in a short time.

 

Benefits of Expansion

Expanding the Pac to 12 teams could help immensely. It would make conference play easier and less rigid by bifurcating teams into two separate divisions. It would add the prestige, national draw, and lucre of a conference championship game. New markets could be tapped and threats from up-and-coming conferences can be stunted.

Expansion would make the Pac champion look stronger, enhance the chance for a national title, dramatically improve the possibility of a second berth and help the conference ascend as an elite BCS conference.  

 

Why now?

The Pac-10 is heightening its effort to replace long-time commissioner Tom Hansen who retires on July 1. The selection will innately play a huge role in the direction and future of the Pac-10. Do they select an old hand and maintain status quo or pursue a visionary looking to reach new heights?

Plus, if the MWC obtains BCS acceptance, teams like Utah and TCU may be inclined to stay. They would (likely) be BCS Bowl contenders every year—a key selling point that would attract several top programs out west.

 

My Top Five

While the current model is not conducive for progress, a 12-team conference is not the end all be all. Expansion only makes sense if you bring in the right schools. Schools that fit within the academic model, contribute more than they consume and offer the Pac as a whole more prestige, more revenue and a better chance at closing the gap on the premier conferences.  

 

Here are my top five candidates.

1. Utah
—Decent academics. Strong football and basketball programs. Well-rounded in other sports.
2. Colorado—Currently in a BCS conference. Strong football name. Large Denver market.
3.TCU—Strong football program. Solid Dallas market. Could extend recruiting bases deeper into Texas.
4. BYU—Well-balanced athletics. Nationwide fan base. Excellent academics. Sunday scheduling, conservative politics and non “research institution” may be issues.
5. Boise St.—Exciting football. Weaker in other sports. Small market. May lack academic prowess.

Fresno St., San Diego St, New Mexico, UNLV and Colorado St. are all worthy of discussion. Some of these may bring attractive markets but may not be competitive enough, lack the budget, tradition or academics to contribute meaningfully.


Conclusion

Hard minds are hard to change. It’s no surprise most Pac-10 university presidents adamantly oppose expansion. That said my guess is Hansen will be replaced by an old hand. Someone who will maintain the current course to mediocrity.

Granted, expansion is a much more complicated process than many of us fans can understand. There are a multitude of sports and other programs that would be impacted. Travel is complicated.

Old rivalries may be parsed. But the opportunity costs for ignoring expansion are too great. And certainly profitable enough to make everyone happy.

Even the university presidents.

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6/5/09   |   Pillz

I think the Pac-10 is majorly underrated by the east. Nobody gets any coverage excapt USC. I think the Pac-10 can compete with any conference on any day. (Except Washington)

6/3/09   |   guylake   |   321 respect

I don't think 10 means what it used to.

3/22/09   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

movieemporium wrote:
Utah and the other MWC members would be stupid to jump ship to the PAC 10. In the MWC, Utah and BYU compete for the conference championship every year. That wouldn't happen in the PAC 10. Additionally, as the article states, the MWC is on the rise and will soon be joining the BCS. If TCU is going anywhere, it will be to the Big 12, but don't look for that to happen because they don't want to get their brains bashed going through a tough Big 12 schedule. And I don't know why everyone keeps mentioning Colorado as a defector to the Pac 10. Colorado is part of the Big 12, not the MWC, and there is no way they are going to leave the Big 12 for the Pac 10. I believe Boise State and Fresno State are more interested in joining the MWC where they will be competitive every year than the Pac 10. I know that Boise State has already approached the MWC in regards to joining.

They really wouldn't be that stupid because the Pac-10 (unlike the uprising MWC) has an automatic BCS bid for the conference winner, and have just as much pull (if not  more) than a MWC team to get an "at large" spot in a BCS game.  They should make the move now before the BCS is replaced with a playoff system..... they'd really be stupid not to.

3/22/09   |   movieemporium

Utah and the other MWC members would be stupid to jump ship to the PAC 10. In the MWC, Utah and BYU compete for the conference championship every year. That wouldn't happen in the PAC 10. Additionally, as the article states, the MWC is on the rise and will soon be joining the BCS. If TCU is going anywhere, it will be to the Big 12, but don't look for that to happen because they don't want to get their brains bashed going through a tough Big 12 schedule. And I don't know why everyone keeps mentioning Colorado as a defector to the Pac 10. Colorado is part of the Big 12, not the MWC, and there is no way they are going to leave the Big 12 for the Pac 10. I believe Boise State and Fresno State are more interested in joining the MWC where they will be competitive every year than the Pac 10. I know that Boise State has already approached the MWC in regards to joining.

3/17/09   |   dragonstar125   |   9 respect

Raider_Dave wrote:
This is something that has been talked about for quite a while, with various scenarios.  While I feel the Pac-10 is a fairly solid conference as it stands, teams like Hawaii, Boise St, or Utah would undeniably add revenues and exposures to each of those underrated programs.  The BCS is all about money, and splitting the Pac-10 into 2 after adding more teams would increase competition and money.

i agree but think utah and boise state , byu and colado all 4 to make 4 team expandson maybe hawii unstead of boise state who knows...byu is the iffy wiht sunday i admit..

3/8/09   |   Jbfpack

Utah should be in the PAC-10

2/26/09   |   matthewmalaise

Texas almost joined the Pac-10 in 1996. When the SWC dissolved Texas going to the Pac-10 was a done deal and A&M was going to the SEC. The TX Legislature stepped in and stopped that from happening. As for  the blog, TCU going to the Pac-10 is an intriguing thought. I wouldnt want it as a fan of the Longhorns who wouldnt want to see teams like USC play in Texas every other year. Giving up too much as far as recruiting. UT may not suffer much, but teams like Tech and A&M definitely would. Utah is a no brainer.

2/23/09   |   briannel1318

(Edited by briannel1318)

I don't the Pac will change. I don't even think they'll consider it. But the Pac has a huge perception problem. Whether is fewer teams, east coast bias, lack of a ccg, or a time zone thing they are perceived less than they play. It's costing them and it could only get worse if the MWC continues climbing.

2/23/09   |   hskrdave   |   10543 respect

 i don't think any bcs teams will be changing conferences.  The Big East to the ACC was an anomaly because the 3 school that move were Football Schools (UMiami, BC, VaTech), not basketball schools.  Of course it was those 3 schools that got the Big East into the BCS to begin with.  If the BCS continues, if conferences want their best shot to get 2nd berths, then they will go to 12 teams, conference championships.

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

fremontguy26 wrote:
o yea talk about to big 10 schools that are rebuilding, i give to ya the Pac-10 has a couple of decent teamsbut to say their better than the Big-10 is crazy. yea he Rose bowl is a home game for USC they better win it.

I'm pretty sure 5-0 in last year's bowl games speaks for itself.  1-6 for the Big 10 is also very valid evidence.  The Big 10 very well may be the most overrated conference in college sports, and it's pretty bad when you need to rely on Iowa winning their bowl game to avoid a total shutout in college's version of the postseason.

2/23/09   |   fremontguy26   |   24 respect

o yea talk about to big 10 schools that are rebuilding, i give to ya the Pac-10 has a couple of decent teamsbut to say their better than the Big-10 is crazy. yea he Rose bowl is a home game for USC they better win it.

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

fremontguy26 wrote:
yea its doing jus fine wit USC winning every year, i live in ohio and we're jus as close to the eastcoast as okalhoma or any big 12 team. o yea ur a USC fan u dont want anything changed.

No, I just don't think there is a need for it.  The Pac-10 does just fine mopping up the Big-10 every year though.  5-0 last season in bowl games seems to help their case too.  Maybe the BCS conferences should have relegation in place each year, so the Utah's and Boise St's of the world can move up and take the place of the much less deserving Michigan's and Wisconsin's.

2/23/09   |   fremontguy26   |   24 respect

Raider_Dave wrote:

Because in case you hadn't noticed, Cincinnati lies in the eastern part of the country.  And the Pac-10 doesn't need to prove itself to the likes of teams in the Midwest or Eastcoast by diluting their conference with other teams.  USC or anyone other team in the conference, the Pac-10 seems to handle its' business just fine.

yea its doing jus fine wit USC winning every year, i live in ohio and we're jus as close to the eastcoast as okalhoma or any big 12 team. o yea ur a USC fan u dont want anything changed.

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

fremontguy26 wrote:
cinncinatti plays in the big east and they arent in the eastcoast so y not

Because in case you hadn't noticed, Cincinnati lies in the eastern part of the country.  And the Pac-10 doesn't need to prove itself to the likes of teams in the Midwest or Eastcoast by diluting their conference with other teams.  USC or anyone other team in the conference, the Pac-10 seems to handle its' business just fine.

2/23/09   |   fremontguy26   |   24 respect

Raider_Dave wrote:
You do now what the "Pac" on Pac-10 is short for don't you?  Otherwise they might as well try and add LSU or Michigan too while were at it.

cinncinatti plays in the big east and they arent in the eastcoast so y not

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

fred77008 wrote:
Arizona is not a Pacific state and has two teams in the conference...

In fact, non of the OP's top 5 suggested schools are in Pacific states either.  Just sayin...

Here's a thought - They could add everyone on the list, except TCU. Add Utah, BYU, Boise St, and Colorado to make a 14 team super conference.  The Pac-West Conference.  They could follow the format the Big 12 uses for a championship.  That might get them an extra bid each year.

If not, they could have Notre Dame...seems everyone is always trying to push them into the Big 10.

Arizona is less than a couple hundred miles from the Pacific Ocean, and fits the bill a lot better than the Midwest teams mentioned previously, it's the name that most closely associates the team's locations with a respective conference.  That being said, any team East of Utah or Colorado wouldn't make a whole lot of sense. 

But the main reason this topic arises is because of the East-coast bias, and the fact that the "experts" and sports writers think that the Pac-10 needs the credibility after these WAC and MWC teams beat theirs in bowl games year after year.  The BCS system as a whole sucks, but it's what we have and it seems to be OK financially, which is what it's purpose is.  There's not much of a reason to change the conferences that make up the BCS, because anything they do will lead to new criticism, but I do think that those conferences have proven that they deserve to be BCS-eligible.  The Pac-10 fares pretty well in the Bowl games, so I see no reason to dilute that conferences in lieu of any other conferences other than the fact that it gets no love from the east coast pundits.  Many of the programs in other conferences are deserving of BCS eligibility, but I'm sure there are other ways to go about granting them eligibility.

2/23/09   |   half_baked   |   847 respect

I think the PAC-10 is somewhat like the western conference of the NHL; since most of the population, schools, coaches, and the media are centered in the east, the teams playing in the west get less attention and dare I say, less respect.  

2/23/09   |   DigitalSquire   |   1 respect

Notre Dame is the Stanford of the midwest ... they belong in the Big 10.

2/23/09   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

 If the Pac-10 adds anybody, it would have to be BYU and Utah or 2 teams from the same state/city otherwise you risk screwing up the natural rivalries that already exist (Washington-Washington St; Oregon-Oregon St; Cal-Stanford; USC-UCLA; Arizona-Arizona St).  While I personally feel that the best fit would be Boise State and Fresno State because they play (and compete with) Pac-10 teams every year, you can't split up the rivals for Civil War week.

2/23/09   |   fred77008   |   17 respect

Raider_Dave wrote:
You do now what the "Pac" on Pac-10 is short for don't you?  Otherwise they might as well try and add LSU or Michigan too while were at it.

Arizona is not a Pacific state and has two teams in the conference...

In fact, non of the OP's top 5 suggested schools are in Pacific states either.  Just sayin...

Here's a thought - They could add everyone on the list, except TCU. Add Utah, BYU, Boise St, and Colorado to make a 14 team super conference.  The Pac-West Conference.  They could follow the format the Big 12 uses for a championship.  That might get them an extra bid each year.

If not, they could have Notre Dame...seems everyone is always trying to push them into the Big 10.

2/23/09   |   beerstudk   |   1538 respect

fremontguy26 wrote:
the Pac-10 needs texas, oklahoma or 1 of good teams out the big 12 to make the Pac-10 interesting cause USC really has no competion.

 You need to watch more Pac-10 games..... a 5-0 bowl record and all of the sudden there's nobody in the Pac-10 but USC??  Oregon, UCLA, Cal and Arizona State all play USC at home next season and all of those teams should improve from last year (and USC has lost their last 4 games in the state of Oregon).

The Pac-10 is always one of the top 3 conferences in the NCAA, they just need more exposure on the East Coast and in the South.

2/23/09   |   DigitalSquire   |   1 respect

Add Utah and Boise St.  TCU is a great team ... but logistically doesn't really work.

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

fremontguy26 wrote:
the Pac-10 needs texas, oklahoma or 1 of good teams out the big 12 to make the Pac-10 interesting cause USC really has no competion.

You do now what the "Pac" on Pac-10 is short for don't you?  Otherwise they might as well try and add LSU or Michigan too while were at it.

2/23/09   |   Raider_Dave   |   47 respect

This is something that has been talked about for quite a while, with various scenarios.  While I feel the Pac-10 is a fairly solid conference as it stands, teams like Hawaii, Boise St, or Utah would undeniably add revenues and exposures to each of those underrated programs.  The BCS is all about money, and splitting the Pac-10 into 2 after adding more teams would increase competition and money.

2/23/09   |   fremontguy26   |   24 respect

the Pac-10 needs texas, oklahoma or 1 of good teams out the big 12 to make the Pac-10 interesting cause USC really has no competion.