Conference expansion under 'serious evaluation'
SAN FRANCISCO -- Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said Tuesday that the window for expansion by the conference is open for the next year as the conference begins negotiations for a new television deal.
Speaking on a conference call to introduce former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as his new deputy, Scott talked about possibly adding new teams to the conference and launching a new television network.
Scott, the former head of the Women's Tennis Association, took over the conference last July. In his less than eight months on the job, he has seen growing interest from the membership over the possibility of adding teams for the first time since Arizona and Arizona State joined the conference in 1978.
"It is really over the next six to 12 months that we'll start having serious analysis and serious evaluations," Scott said.
While there has been major upheaval in conference alignments in recent years, the Pac-10 has remained stable for more than three decades. But with a new commissioner and television deals that expire following the 2011-12 academic year, the time is ripe for a fresh look at the issue.
Some speculation centers on Texas and Texas A&M (which would have to tag along if Texas goes) but I don't buy it. Texas is two time zones away and about a 6-7 hour flight from, say, Seattle or Pullman to Austin or Houston (especially flying west to east, you've shot your whole day just getting there).
Some have suggested Utah and BYU. Natural rivals. Opens up the Salt Lake City market. But when the commish talks about schools that are "culturally compatible" is that code that these people don't want BYU, which certainly has little in common with, say, Berkeley?
I could see them getting Utah and Colorado. That gives them two TV markets in the Mountain time zone, far more centrally located than Houston or Austin, thus easier for fan bases to travel between.
That could also start a domino effect where the Big XII adds a replacement (TCU?) and the Mountain West adds Boise St. Now the BCS conglomerate has ended their problem with congressional investigations at the same time. Orrin Hatch is happy. Joe Barton is happy. Hello, BCS peace.
Now, if the Pac 10 adds a school, it will almost certainly prompt the Big 11 to add another school - likely Notre Dame or Pitt - with the Big East possibly needing to adjust also.
Such changes have been conjectured by fans for some time but here's somebody in power sounding like expansion is a very real possibility.
Of course, I wouldn't mind seeing eight 12-team superconferences (ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big XII, C-USA, Mountain West, Pac-10, SEC) leading up to an 8-team playoff for football. That would be sweeeet.