With no plans for a Pac-16 super-conference in the immediate future, it appears as if Larry Scott is content with adding Utah to the league as a way to expand to 12 teams and create two separate divisions of six with the likelihood of a conference championship game anticipated to bring an added $10 million annually in revenue. Earlier this morning, The Oregonian noted that some sources are suggesting that the Utes could be joining the Pac-10 in the coming weeks, and in fact, have already received an invitation:
UteZone, the Rivals site that covers the University of Utah, reports: Sources ... indicate that Utah informed the Mountain West Conference Monday of its intentions to leave the conference.
Contacted this morning by The Oregonian, the spokesperson for the Mountain West had "no knowledge" of such a move.
Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson told the Associated Press today that when he last spoke to Utah athletic director Chris Hill on Monday the Utes had not heard from the Pac-10.
Also today, the Salt Lake Tribune sets the table for the Utes move, describing Utah as "the strongest available candidate."
Of course, adding Colorado and Utah certainly pales in comparison to adding the likes of Oklahoma and Texas. The academic prestige isn't the same. The tradition and the on the field success certainly lean toward the two Big XII south schools as well.
But at the end of the day, this has to be considered an upgrade over the previous ten team, round robin format. Featuring twelve teams increases the competition and revenue for all teams and helps to improve the perception of the conference nationwide. In a sport that is largely subjective and relies upon the opinions of voters, public perception of a conference can not be overvalued. For years, the Pac-10 has taken a potshots regarding its "inferior competition" from east coast columnists and SEC homers.
Expansion helps to bring in more quality schools, and based on the success both Colorado and Utah have enjoyed this decade (CU won the Big XII in 2001 and Utah posted undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2008), you have to think that the Pac-10 is headed in the right direction. At the very least, I don't see how the addition of these schools would hurt the tradition of the league or be a financial disaster.
Keep fighting on Mr. Scott!