Pac-10 Should Remain Pac-10

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Although the Pac-10 has announced it will expand to twelve teams soon, the official approval by the current members has yet to take place. When the voting members are asked to approve Colorado and Utah, they should vote no.

Adding two teams would allow the conference to hold a championship game, and Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News estimates that would generate an additional $5 million in revenue for the Pac-10. However, the San Francisco Chronicle recently said that there is a possibility that each school will receive less money overall if expansion goes through as planned. Remember, more money overall won’t equal more money for each school. Instead of splitting revenue 10 ways, the Pac-10 would have 12 mouths to feed.

With television negotiations on the horizon, commissioner Larry Scott envisioned a super conference with 16 teams that included Texas and Oklahoma. At one point, the idea appeared poised to become a reality. Nevertheless, the idea fell through, but Colorado and Utah remained ready to join. No offense to those two schools, but they don’t meet Pac-10 academic standards and don’t command huge television ratings. To begin with, the Pac-10’s current television deal is too low so it is bound to increase in a big way when a new deal is inked. The conference could get along financially just fine without adding the third best team in the non-AQ Mountain West and a cellar dweller of the Big-XII.

Then there is the scheduling issue. Every school wants access to the southern California market. For example, reports say Colorado joined the conference with the idea they would be paired with the southern California schools. Meanwhile, programs want to hold on to big rivalries in addition to their geographic rivalry game (i.e. Oregon-Washington, USC-Cal, Stanford-UCLA, etc.). No matter how the divisions and scheduling shakes out, some teams will feel they drew the short end of the stick. And if Colorado gets its way, it won’t be one of the new members that gets the raw deal. Why should the current members have to make sacrifices to add two teams?

Why should the harmony of the conference be disrupted to accommodate two teams that weren’t even the main target of expansion? Larry Scott wanted 16 teams. He can stand up and gush about the new 12 team conference all he wants. Deep down, he knows his dream failed and that the Pac-10 really didn’t gain anything by adding Colorado and Utah.

Certainly, it would be a callous move to turn away Colorado and Utah after extending invitations. However, college football has become more about money than anything else. Schools are switching conferences every second just to squeeze out another penny. Loyalty is not an issue here; these two teams bailed on their previous conferences. In the end, money is the main issue. If the conference can’t generate substantially more money–which it appears it can’t–Scott should not mess with the harmonious round-robin schedule until he can bring in big names like Texas and Oklahoma as well.