College conference realignment unlikely
BY EDWARD CARIFIO, SUN STAFF WRITER
Despite all the talk of expansion surrounding both the Pac-10 and the Big Ten, don’t hold your breath on it happening.
And on what do I base this bold statement? Inside sources? Years of experience? A Ouija board?
Don’t I wish I had any of those three things. Nope, this is solely coming from the gut.
Besides – expansion can be overrated. Remember when the Atlantic Coast Conference added Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech in the early 2000s? Game over, man. The ACC is going to be a football powerhouse for years.
Well, not only is the ACC a pretty marginal football conference – top-to-bottom balance to be sure, but no strength at the top – it’s basketball certainly hasn’t improved. From that standpoint, the Big East was happy to see those three schools go. And they’re not significantly worse than the ACC in football (or hoops – in fact you could argue the Big East is better. I just don’t feel like making that argument right now.)
As for this current expansion, you could have a field day just based on rumors. Supposedly, Texas is being courted by the Big Ten. That will never happen. Why would the Longhorns give up money-making games against Baylor, Texas A&M and Oklahoma in every sport just to get a slightly larger television deal?
Missouri, Pittsburgh and Rutgers are tossed about as Big Ten prospects as the league considers adding between one and five teams. I’m not holding my breath for any of that.
Of course, Pac-10 expansion may be more likely, albeit still a long shot. The whole reason the league wants to expand is to bring in more television revenue – that means it needs big markets. If it brings in two teams, it’s splitting its TV pie 12 ways instead of 10, so those two teams better be bringing plenty of flour, if you know what I mean. (Pie, flour? Eh? Eh?)
So people yearning for Boise State and Fresno State should just give up hope now. No San Diego school seems like Pac-10 material (read: bad at sports) so that probably ain’t going to happen. UNLV seems a little, ahem, sketchy. Might as well bring in Florida State.
The thing is, there is a scenario that makes sense. Utah or BYU would be a good fit. The interwebs are full of reports that secular-first West Coast schools might be uncomfortable with a religious school joining the fold. I don’t buy that. I think each is a good candidate, but not both. Two schools from the same market doesn’t make sense if this is all about the Benjamins.
Besides, there’s a second school: Colorado. If the Buffs decided they want out of the Big 12, the Pac-10 should be happy to have them and their top-20 television market. Plus, the Big 12 wouldn’t lose any sleep. I’d imagine they’d be pretty quick bringing TCU into the league, which is probably a better fit anyway – although division alignments would be a little tricky, but that shouldn’t be a sticking point.
That would also give the Pac-10 a pretty good division alignment – Colorado, Utah/BYU, Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC as the South with Cal, Stanford, the two Oregons and the two Washingtons as the North. Hello, football championship game monies.
That said, don’t hold your breath. I don’t think the Pac-10 will expand unless it’s Utah/BYU and Colorado.
Either way, the Pac-10 is still no ACC.