CONFERENCE EXPANSION

Pac-10 up to 12 teams with Utah now in fold

2010-06-17T00:00:00Z 2013-09-10T17:01:36Z Pac-10 up to 12 teams with Utah now in foldBruce Pascoe Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star
June 17, 2010 12:00 am  • 

The Pac-10 capped its expansion push at 12 by adding Utah on Wednesday, setting the stage for Arizona to join the Utes and Colorado in a southern division along with ASU and the Los Angeles schools.

The Pac-10 would not confirm divisional alignments or scheduling possibilities with 12 teams, with both the Pac-10 and Utah officials declining comment until a news conference scheduled for today at noon Tucson time in Salt Lake City.

Although league athletic directors did hold a conference call to discuss Utah's addition, Arizona AD Greg Byrne said the conference has not yet formally sorted out the divisions. It is also unclear whether Utah and Colorado would begin Pac-10 play in 2011 or 2012.

However, the Denver Post reported that Colorado accepted its invitation last week on the condition that it would be placed in a southern division.

"This is a huge boost for us," Colorado AD Mike Bohn told the Post. "The southern division for the University of Colorado provides many opportunities that are keys to reaching our alumni to our recruiting and to enhance media exposure that connects best to the Denver market."

While scheduling and divisions remain uncertain, this much is known so far:

• The Pac-10 now has enough teams to hold a football championship game, which could generate at least $10 million annually for the conference.

• The Pac-10 is expected to receive significantly more television money once the conference's $43million annual Fox Sports Net contract runs out after the 2011-12 season.

• Utah will not only get an automatic BCS qualification, but the Utes could eventually see a 10-fold increase in the $1.2 million they received in television revenue from the Mountain West Conference last year.

Between its television and football money, the Pac-10 has been able to dole out between $7 million and $8 million per year in television and bowl revenue.

The Pac-10 was aiming to distribute a total package of about $20million per team, if it had managed to attract powerful Texas and several other high-profile Big 12 schools. But that deal fell apart Monday when Texas turned down the Pac-10's offer and opted to remain in the Big 12.

As a result, the Pac-10 retreated to a 12-team plan and added Utah after having offered an invitation to Colorado last week. The Pac-10 is still expected to generate an eight-figure payout to each team once the Fox Sports Net contract expires, since the Denver and Utah markets have been added.

In addition, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has explored the possibility of creating the conference's own television network.

"We're obviously very excited to have Utah as part of the conference," Byrne said. "It will be a great addition to have Salt Lake City and the surrounding media market and, certainly, it again shows that it's a different day and time for the Pac-10."

Byrne said conference athletic directors will be working out divisions and scheduling over the next few weeks.

One possibility is that football teams play a round-robin within their division and face half of the other division. Basketball teams could play a double round-robin within their division and a single round-robin outside it.

"We haven't gone through all those details," Byrne said.

The other major uncertainty is when Utah and Colorado will begin Pac-10 play. Scott said last week that Colorado would join in 2012 unless events in the Big 12 dictated otherwise. But now Nebraska has said it plans to leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten in 2011, meaning the Big 12 would be stuck with a lame-duck Colorado for just 2011-12 unless the Pac-10's timetable is moved up.

Colorado may have to pay about $9 million to the Big 12 for its departure; Utah faces no penalty for leaving the Mountain West Conference, which added Boise State last week.

POSSIBLE Pac-10 divisions

Although the Pac-10 has not confirmed how it will break down a 12-team conference into divisions, especially for football, Arizona is expected to join ASU, Colorado, UCLA, Utah and USC in a southern division. Here is that breakdown and two other very remote possibilities:

By latitude (sort of*)

North Division

California

Oregon

Oregon State

Stanford

Washington

Washington State

South Division

Arizona

ASU

Colorado

UCLA

Utah

USC

*Colorado and Utah are technically farther north than California or Stanford

By temperature

Warm Division

Arizona

ASU

California

Stanford

UCLA

USC

Cold Division

Colorado

Oregon

Oregon State

Utah

Washington

Washington State

By the zipper (natural rivals split up)

Division One

Arizona

California

Colorado

Oregon

USC

Washington

Division Two

ASU

UCLA

Oregon State

Stanford

Utah

Washington State

How it might work

In football, teams could play all five of their divisional opponents plus half of the other division for a total of eight conference games.

In basketball, teams could play a double round-robin within their division (10 games) and a single round-robin (six games) with other division teams for a total of 16 games.

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