Around the Quack: Hypothetical Pac-10 Expansion

It's been a while since our last Around The Quack roundtable session with the staff of ATQ. But with the latest slew of off-field issues involving Oregon football players, it seemed like high time to...completely distract ourselves from the mess. Which is why we're getting our minds off all that nonsense and focusing on last week's news, which is completely hypothetical and has little to no consequence at all: Pac-10 Expansion.

In previous roundtable renditions, we've had a moderator facilitate the discussion. But this time, we've gone with a more organic approach, essentially holding the discussion via an email thread, then transposing those emails into a more organized format for you, the readers. (By the way, jtlight and I were all for making this happen via Google Wave, but we abandoned the idea when Addicted to Quack asked, "What on Earth is Google Wave?"

We can't fault the Godfather of Quack for his age, can we?

PaulSF

Today's discussion: The hypothetical Pac-10 expansion. Dave did an excellent job of breaking down his thoughts on the matter, and for all intents and purposes, he makes a lot of great points. But considering the 300+ comments in response to his post, this is hardly a cut-and-dry issue. Let's open up the discussion by returning to the central debate: If the Pac-10 does in fact expand to become the Pac-12, who are numbers 11 and 12?

Pac-10 Logo Utah Logo Boise State Logo Colorado Logo BYU Logo

Takimoto

My thoughts, they are a jumble:

First, if we expand, I think we need to go back to the Pacific Coast Conference. It's got symmetry with the ACC, there's history, and it's way less lame than Pac-12.

I don't know what to think about Texas. It's almost if they didn't think anybody was serious about expansion at first, then when they found out the Pac-10 and Big Ten are serious, started shopping themselves around. The Big 12 is almost as shitty a conference as the Pac-10 from a media standpoint, and I'm sure the Big Ten network looks appealing on paper.

I don't see us expanding for the sake of expanding. If we can't get Utah and Colorado, we can't expand. UNLV is a tremendous stretch, but is the basketball program and the Vegas market enough of a sell if we're really committed to expanding?

Addicted to Quack

Obviously I've made my stance known. Colorado is the goldmine (no way in hell we get Texas). BYU will never get an invite, even though they are a national brand due to their religion. Utah is a no brainer. But if we can't get CU, there is nobody else worth it.

What would be more interesting is if, hypothetically (and I see no reason why they would), if they wanted to get another pair of natural rivals. Would they still try and pry Colorado and pair them with CSU? Would they go ahead with BYU? UNLV/Nevada? That's where things could get really crazy, but it makes no sense from a financial standpoint.

JConant

I'm with Tako here, in that I'm kinda all over the place. I favor expansion, and have for some time, though my opinion in the past was more about prestige than the now urgent need for cash flow. I always thought the conference would go after two clear-cut rivals in BYU-Utah or Colorado-Colorado State. I think it was Jared that spelled out some of the criteria a few days back. So I understand it's not going to be that simple.

No doubt Colorado and Utah could turn into a compelling rivalry. It just won't have the same immediate ring of Civil War or Apple Cup.

I probably have more questions than answers at this point. How much consideration does the conference give to the notion that grabbing big bowl money might eventually turn into grabbing big playoff money? I suppose very little since no one knows what kind of financial arrangement might emerge from such a fundamental change. I don't think it's far-fetched to expect the money to be distributed in some ratio to conference representation in, let's say, a 16-team playoff. If the new conference leaders are doing some deep thinking, they ought to be at least considering the possibility of how expansion might create upside in that scenario.

Bottom line, I'd trade the sanctity and absoluteness of round-robin play for a big-boy TV package and improved financial security throughout the conference in a heartbeat. I can live with a conference championship and the fact that some teams will have schedule advantages (imagine a hypothetical 2011 season with UCLA missing Oregon and Utah in the same season that USC misses WSU and Colorado). What I can't live with is the Pac-10 lessening it's standards. Thankfully, it doesn't sound like there's any risk of that happening.

Matt Daddy

Let's talk about something that no one is really addressing. Does the Pac 10 NEED to expand?

At what end of the spectrum you have The Traditionalist who will say, "HELL NO!" Why mess with the round robin? Don't change something that has been a differentiating factor for the conference for years. That's like making the National League use designated hitters. No Texas or Colorado is going to sway The Traditionalist to change his mind.

At the other end of the spectrum you have the Liberal Thinker who says, "HELL YES!" We need to make ourselves comparable to the other big conferences. The round robin is killing our chances at more bowls, at higher rankings and more money for the universities. The liberal will be happy with Colorado, Utah, BYU or even UNLV and New Mexico.

For me it's about the money. There are some universities that are hurting for funds. OSU is looking at paycheck games, Wazzu needs money and expansion to get competitive again, UW is still trying to fund a stadium renovation. The Pac 10's TV deal SUCKS. I don't think any media deal is going to be happy if we only add UNLV and Nevada, and we won't see the big dollars we need to make The Traditionalist happy about the expansion. On the other hand, a Colorado/Utah expansion could draw a pretty penny for a Pac Network and that might show enough Benjamins to sway some of the most stubborn hard liners to consider the expansion.

I think Larry Scott needs to work on both ends of the deal at the same time. He needs to secure a decent enough media deal to present to the schools, but he also needs to start to chip away at some of the schools he wants to make the media deal start to stand out.

It's about the money, show the schools the money and the deal will get done.

Addicted to Quack

Want a completely crazy idea that would be crazy risky but would deliver massive amounts of attention and could deliver an enormous media market. It would never happen, but: www.gothunderbirds.ca

JConant

Hey, Simon Fraser U. in Burnaby, B.C., was in the same football conference as Pacific Lutheran, Puget Sound, Pacific, Lewis and Clark, Linfield, etc., back in the day.

If UBC played Washington we could call it the inaugural Bum Wine Bowl - Mad Dogs vs. Thunderbirds.

PaulSF

I think Dave's been watching too much of the Olympics. B.C. makes absolutely ZERO sense, mostly because the NCAA wouldn't allow it.

Now, here's the crazy idea I've been dying to put on the table: Goodbye, Washington State. Hello, Boise State/Gonzaga.

Give me three good reasons this doesn't make sense: We kick Wazzu to the curb to join the Mountain West or WAC, and we add Gonzaga for hoops and Boise State for everything else. What doesn't make sense about that? We lose one of our smallest market teams without losing Seattle, and we add a bigger market than Spokane (Boise).

Then, assuming Colorado and Texas say no, we add BYU. Why the Cougars instead of Utah, you ask? My answer: Mormons. You think I'm kidding? Check this out: There are over 6 million Mormons in the U.S. 60% are in Utah, 14% are in Idaho, 9% are in Nevada, 6% are in Arizona, and 4% are in Oregon. And the rest are in every other state. That is a HUGE regional and national audience, twice the size of any single market remaining in the Pac-10's footprint.

To me, that's a no brainer.

Addicted to Quack

You can't just kick a conference member to the curb. It doesn't work that way.

I said UBC would never happen, but the NCAA would allow it. Jeremy alluded to Simon Fraser, who is rejoining Division II next season. The NCAA would absolutely allow it, and there is some talk of the NCAA and CIF merging. There are a lot of reason why it would never happen, but that doesn't mean you don't consider the idea, even if just for half a second. It's an enormous school in a huge city with a big enrollment and alumni base.

PaulSF

If the talk of expansion is primarily about money, and it clearly is, why can't you kick your weakest link to the curb? Tradition? Loyalty? Karma? If those are your reasons, you aren't very familiar with Big Money, and how it works. Wazzu is not pulling its weight, except academically. Boise State would be a welcomed replacement.

As for UBC, they're not prestigious enough athletically. They're the equivalent of an NCAA D-II school, like Simon Fraser. SFU is the first Canadian school to join the NCAA...ever. If you think the NCAA would allow a D-II level school to join a BCS conference, you're nuts.

Takimoto

Is this a reaction to their "rival" being included in Pac-10 talks, or is this something separate altogether?

Matt Daddy

If the Big 10 gets Nebraska, it might make it easier to get Colorado to keep the rivalry alive of the Big 10 - Pac 10 connections. I think Osborne's comment reinforces what I am saying about the money. If the Big 10 is offering $18-20 million per year in TV revenue, that is hard for a school(s) to ignore in this economic climate.

If the Pac-10 can secure a deal in the $200 million range for a TV network, it might make Colorado a no-brainer and the potential for Texas as well a real possibility. Can you imagine adding Texas and CU to the Pac 10? Then I would have no problem with Paul's idea of kicking WSU to the curb and adding Utah. That's about as far fetched as adding a BC team.

Takimoto

We should get the Oakland Raiders to join the Pac-10. That is all.

Addicted to Quack

Just hammering home the point. It's all about the markets. No Denver, no expansion.

PaulSF

I agree, to an extent. But I think it's more about money than market, which is why I'm such an advocate for BYU. We're talking 6 million strong! Why are we closing that door so quickly in the process?

And I agree with Tako: The "religious fanatics" of Raider Nation would be a welcomed addition as well.

jtlight

To get back to the original question, I think the most logical candidates are Colorado and Utah, and there isn't really a close second. It'd be nice to get Texas, but that's not gonna happen.

For Colorado, they'd fit in the Pac-10 just about perfectly, and by all accounts, they are looking seriously at making a move if asked.

As far as Utah, they bring in Salt Lake, fit the Pac-10 better culturally and academically then any other schools, and field a wide variety of athletic teams. They're established, and have a long line of success. They would make a strong addition to the Pac-10 across the board.

BYU is definitely an intriguing option, but I just don't see it happening for cultural reasons. Also, I don't see them bringing any more money to television contracts. They don't expand eastward, or expand Pac-10 area. It's just easier to bring in Utah and gain the same advantages. It's not just about eyes, it's about territory. There just isn't much of a reason to bring in BYU and Utah both. It's gonna be one or the other, and Utah is the top choice by a good margin.

As far as this idea of kicking WSU to the curb, at this point is makes some sense financially, but they are still a better school in just about every respect than BSU or Gonzaga. First, Boise State would add absolutely nothing to the conference. It's a glorified junior college that adds nothing athletically or academically, outside of football. And with football, they can barely sell out their stadium, despite the fact that they can make BCS bowls. Boise doesn't give the Pac-10 any more money, and once BSU joins a BCS conference, they will lose that national luster, and become just another mid-level team as they face real competition every week. And Gonzaga, well, that just doesn't fit. The Pac-10 isn't going to try to become the Big East, and that makes me happy.

PaulSF

The news of Jim Sterk leaving Wazzu for the non-AQ San Diego State pretty much sums up Washington State's status in the conference. Quite simply, they're a bottom feeder. I have a hard time believing Boise State doesn't bring more to the table, except academically.

What if the Pac-10 adds Colorado, Utah (or BYU, in my mind), then adds Boise State and forces Wazzu out? That's unquestionably a homerun.

But there's another question worth asking: How are the Mountain West and WAC going to react to all these rumors? Do they undercut the Pac-10 by trying to merge the best of the WAC and Mountain West?

jtlight

BSU would not be a home run. I think they'd be a big downgrade.

BSU doesn't bring any additional weight to the television bargaining table. They don't have a large alumni base, and can barely fill a 33k-seat stadium. So, they can't bring in any real football revenue. Which means they'd simply be living off the other Pac-10 schools. Not too much different than Wazzu, but that's the best case scenario, in BSU's only strength, football.

On top of this, BSU has proven almost nothing football-wise. If they come into the Pac-10, they stop being the cute story, and start having to compete for real. There is no upside to that scenario. All they can do, whether they succeed or fail, is bring down the Pac-10 as a whole, because the university has zero prestige.

Outside of football, they would be a laughable addition. Academically, they don't fit. In other sports, they don't compete. WSU is established and better in just about every other sport. WSU doesn't have a lot going for themselves right now, but BSU would have the exact same problems, and they would be multiplied a million times outside of football.

As far as the WAC and MWC go, they're gonna get the short end of the stick. Their top teams will jump to another conference if given the opportunity. They can try to consolidate, but the WAC and MWC have their own interests, and won't do that easily. If they had been smart, they would have tried a merge last year. It now looks like it may be too late for them to do anything but wait until the big boys decide what they want to do.

PaulSF

I think you're jumping to conclusions about Boise State. First of all, not prestigious in anything other than football? They're currently a Pac-10 member in wrestling, winning the conference in 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008 and 2009. And they're currently atop the conference again this season, ranked No. 9 nationally. I also think it's fair to say their hoops program is on the rise.

I just don't buy it that they're not a better risk than Wazzu at this point. That's all I'm saying.

jtlight

OK, so they're good at two sports. And wrestling is probably the least important in the Pac-10 (other schools in the Pac-10 for wrestling include such powers as Cal State Bakersfield). So while I may have been overstating their issues a bit, they just don't bring anything to the table. BSU is less prestigious than WSU as an overall university. They don't have the alumni base, and they don't bring much in terms of TV.

At this point, Wazzu isn't a risk. We know what they bring to the table as a University. They've been terrible in football for a while, but we can blame this on a coach. Schools like WSU, or OSU, or BSU don't have the margin of error that other schools have. And because of BSU's position, their margin for error is even smaller, making them a much bigger risk. They simply don't have the support of the Pac-10 schools, or the other schools considered for expansion. In fact, long term, I think that WSU is in a much better position to get back to success. It won't be easy for them, but at least we know they can be successful. But we don't know that about BSU, and honestly, I don't see any reason to think that they could be successful long term in a conference with real competition. I mean, maybe they could have some success, but their basic limitations means that it would be easier for them to be the next WSU than become a perennial top Pac-10 contender.

Because the main thing drives success in athletic departments is alumni support. BSU is incapable of achieving that, no matter how much on-field success they have.

If anything, all the reasons why BSU will never be in the Pac-10, and brings nothing to the Pac-10, are reasons why BYU would be great. BYU won't get in for other reasons, but they have a really strong base, which is supremely important.

Matt Daddy

You know the more I think about the more I like the idea of adding BYU and Utah. I like the rivalry part, BYU has a strong following and a decent academic record. Also, I think stealing them from the MWC will be a hell of a lot easier than CU from the Big 12. The only major downside to adding them would be that it doesn't expand our market reach as much as CU. But that begs the question, with what CU will have to give up to leave the Big 12, and right now what we have to offer, would you rather have a bird in the hand (BYU and Utah) or two in the bush (possibly CU and Utah).

If we can lock up BYU and Utah right away to get the expansion set and go after a decent TV deal, do you do that or continue to try and get CU in hopes of a greater deal? Lastly, I hate BYU and it would be fun to root against them and actually mean something.

Addicted to Quack

Kicking out Wazzu cannot happen. It isn't possible, so let that horse die. Boise is also a horrible addition on every single level. It's seriously almost as laughable as my UBC idea.

It seems fitting that Addicted to Quack gets the last word. But what do you think? Should the Pac-10 expand? If so, who should they add? This topic has already been discussed, but the dust has settled somewhat since the topic hit the wire a few weeks ago. Let's hear your thoughts in the comments.

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