Pac-10 expansion has been a hot topic the past week or so. For that matter so has Big-10 expansion, which is interesting since they are likely going to be linked.
Most of the chatter is just that, filling up the time between now and when spring practices begin. So I thought I would bring my two cents into the equation.
The logical choices for expansion are easy: Utah, Colorado and Missouri. Why? It is all about the television markets. If the Pac-10 decides to expand it is going to be all about the money and television revenue is going to play a big role in that. I will throw in another wildcard that has not been discussed. How about TCU in the Dallas/Fort Worth metro?
The reality is it seems unlikely either Colorado or Missouri would want to move to the Pac-10. Why would they? They have nice geographical rivals, they have tradition and the Big-12 is no mid-major. Yet here is where it really gets fun and why Pac-10 fans need to follow Big-10 expansion closely. The Big-10 is looking to expand and while most think they will move east to Pittsburgh, there are plenty of links to the Big-12 developing.
It has been reported that initial overtures have been made to Texas. What a coup that would be. Nebraska AD and legendary coach Tom Osbourne says the Cornhuskers would certainly listen if the Big-10 comes calling. Missouri has expressed interest in moving to the Big-10 as well.
If the Big-10 makes a big splash and poaches Texas, or Nebraska or a couple of teams, just watch how fast the Big-12 would collapse with teams clamoring to join the Pac-10. How does Colorado and Missouri end up in a new Pac-12? Nebraska and Texas go to the Big-10 to make some sort of super conference.
Short of that though it just does not seem like Missouri or Colorado would move from an as is Big-12
Utah makes more sense. Just about every rumor of actual expansion has the Utes involved. They bring the Salt Lake City television market, a good football program and a basketball program with solid tradition. The academics would fit into the Pac-10 vision as well. It seems hard to imagine a real expansion that would not consist of Utah.
When thinking of expanding most of the time people think of logical rivalry pairs. So BYU is often mentioned with Utah. It certainly makes a ton of sense from the athletic perspective. A Northern division of Utah, BYU, Washington, WSU, Oregon and OSU, and a Southern division with Stanford, Cal, USC, UCLA, Arizona and ASU. Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News makes some interesting points about BYU’s academics not being up to Pac-10 standards and also the religious component. Not sure I agree about the academics but BYU would be the only religious school in the Pac-10.
TCU makes logical sense as well. It gets the Pac-10 into the state of Texas which is great for recruiting as well as television. But TCU would fall into a similar category to BYU for academics and religion.
Boise State would be a lot of fun for football, but that is all Boise brings. There will be no expansion for Boise, San Jose or Fresno State.
The other pairing that would be interesting would be from the state of Nevada. Reno and UNLV could join the Pac-10 as a rivalry pair. The odds of it happening would be slim, but wouldn’t it be fun having every other year road trips to Las Vegas?
In the end, I think the Pac10 will expand. However, I don’t think anyone can take a real guess as to which Universities it will be until the Big-10 makes its choices. The money is in the Big-10 thanks in large part to the success of the Big-10 network. Once the Big-10 expands then let the dominoes fall.
If the Big-10 ravages the Big-12, you bet there will be former Big-12 teams in the new Pac-12. If the Big-12 is left alone, look for two Mountain West teams to get promoted to the Pac-12. Of course not expanding is still a possibility.
While the Pac-10 investigates its options now, there will likely be plenty of contingency offers on the table between the conference and other Universities. But until the Big-10 makes its choices, it is hard to imagine the Pac-10 making any firm decisions on expansion.