For the Pac-10, expansion could very well be an all-or-nothing situation.
Saying again that the league could stay happily put, commissioner Larry Scott also told me today that several expansion scenarios are active.
The newest, adding Texas and five other Big 12 schools, is by far the biggest leap. But if the Pac-10 and it's consultant, Creative Artists Agency, have decided that adding Colorado and Utah won't create enough additional revenue to make it worthwhile, perhaps the only expansion plan that makes sense is adding Texas along with whatever it takes to get Texas.
The Longhorns took in $64 million of net football revenue in 2008-09 -- about six times what UA football makes -- and have a gigantic television command.
"The only way expansion would make sense is if there's a significant increase in value compared to the very bright prospects of what we have now," Scott said. "People love how the conference is weighed today."
So Scott is painting a picture of a conference that will shoot high but will be fine either way. The "worst case" might just be staying put and sharing a TV network with the Big 12 (assuming that conference doesn't get too many ruffled feathers by all this).
The Pac-10, now seen as the aggressor as much if not more than the Big Ten, is not perceived to be in a panic mode. But the Big 12 probably is.
So how would UA and ASU fare in a division with the Big 12 additions? That's a tricky one. In football, UA might be playing Texas Tech every year but only USC every third. But I've been told UA is remaining optimistic that such a structure would not separate itself too much from the old Pac-8 teams, that creative scheduling could allow UA to both keep its traditional rivalries intact as well as accommodate the new teams.
Scott would not dig into specific situations but did say that scheduling would be created carefully within each sport. So a non-revenue team that has high travel expenses may be scheduled to minimize far-flung trips, if possible.
Geographically, at least, there really isn't a huge difference for Arizona other than losing frequent games against the Los Angeles schools.
Tucson is actually closer to all six of the Big 12 targets than it is to any of the four Pacific Northwest schools. And charter flights, especially in football and basketball, will become much more affordable with all that expected TV money floating around, thus making travel even easier.
(Also, more charter flights mean less missed class time, making presidents and chancellors even more likely to support this idea...)
And if non-revenue teams are forced to fly commercial, there are even nonstop flights from Tucson to cities near Colorado and Texas A&M. It's certainly no worse than going to Pullman, and the weather might be even better.
So how much does basketball matter in the expansion talks?
Nebraska may really be the key to all this, because if the Cornhuskers go to the Big Ten then the Big 12 foundation will be shaking. (and if you're really into this stuff, consider that Syracuse and Notre Dame could also go to the Big Ten while maybe the Big East as well as the Big 12 collapse. Phew).
One of the more interesting political situations is whether Baylor pulls some political strings to get invited over Colorado.
Washington's AD says there is a good feeling either way with the Pac-10's plan, though Greg Byrne and all UA officials deferred comment to Scott today. Byrne only told Pat Finley and a few other reporters in Oklahoma City a few general thoughts on expansion.
"There's been a lot of talk about different options long-term for the conference and what we're involved with," Byrne said. "It's certainly come quickly, no doubt about that."
Quinn Cook did not arrive as planned today for an official visit, but the cancellation does not appear to mean he's no longer interested in UA.
I've been told the cancellation had more to do with family issues and that he will attempt to visit Tucson later.
Cook appeared to be something of a long shot anyway, with a long list of ACC and Big East schools on his radar, but his talent makes him somebody UA has to take a shot at.
Damien Leonard took his unofficial visit to Oklahoma State and the Wildcats may find out soon if they still remain in the hunt for the South Carolina guard.
Bud Withers recalled a difficult but rewarding 2003 luncheon with John Wooden, Pete Newell and Marv Harshman.