First of all, PAC-10 expansion. Sure sounds like a reality, doesn’t it? The question seems to no longer be an “IF”, but more like “WHO” and “WHEN”. The timing seems absolutely perfect in regards to the TV contracts expiring after 2011-2012. And, there’s a new fly in the ointment – per Scott Woodward, Washington’s AD yesterday evening on KJR-AM, the scuttlebutt is that the Big 10 could add another five teams to the mix, giving them a whopping 16 teams in their conference! Included in this could be Pitt, Mizzou, as well as some other northeast schools that they may try to poach from the Big East.
Woodward’s point was that some of this can be driven by the reality, now, that they have to consider these measures if they are going to keep up with the rest of the country. The SEC, the ACC, the Big East, the Big 12, all these conferences have made some drastic changes in the last 15-or-so years, including adding teams and playing a conference championship game. The Pac-10 is the only power BCS conference that has stayed the same since adding the Arizona schools in the 70’s. The hiring of Larry Scott and now Kevin Weiberg, the former Big 12 commish and Big 10 exec, it’s pretty clear that they are thinking big on this thing.
We have some thoughts on this very topic, and we have made some of those thoughts known in the past. But does it really matter what WSU thinks? Sure, we have a voice in this, I mean we are still in the club and all that stuff. But, uh, yeah, we’re 10th out of 10 in pretty much everything, from revenue, ticket sales, season ticket holders, media market….you get the picture, that we are at the little kids table in all this. We’ll pipe up here and there, maybe even get a laugh from the big boys, but we’ll be mostly ignored while the grown-ups talk about grown-up stuff, like money and business and that sort of thing. You wouldn’t be interested……
Of course, I”m kidding. We’re in this with the rest of the conference. But man, when you consider the quest for revenue, and increased exposure to boot, all this sure makes sense. The possibilities are many, and I’m sure we’ll hear and see arguments made in the days ahead from pretty much every corner of the WSU/PAC-10 blogosphere.
But of everything I’ve seen so far, Ted Miller actually wrote about this very topic back in mid-December, and laid it out pretty well as to the challenges – and benefits – of expansion out west:
The first issue is the small pool of potential candidates. The teams most often mentioned — mostly by fans — are Utah, BYU, Boise State, San Diego State, Colorado, Fresno State, Nevada, UNLV and TCU.
A couple of those are intriguing possibilities, but a couple wouldn’t even be considered.
Programs need to be an academic and athletic match. That means admission standards and research accreditation are issues. On the athletic side, it’s not just about football. How strong is the entire athletic department? Recall the Pac-10 is the “Conference of Champions” and Olympic and women’s sports are part of that foundation.
Then there’s the biggest issue: Money. If the Pac-10 were to expand, it wants that expansion to mean more of it. There’s widespread concern that a number of the potential candidates don’t come from markets that will increase revenue.
Bringing in Utah and Colorado might be a winner (Salt Lake City and Denver markets), and at least one Pac-10 athletic director said that’s the most likely scenario. Of course, prying Colorado away from the Big 12 might not be easy.
TCU, perhaps? There are issues — distance being an obvious one — but Pac-10 coaches would salivate over a bigger potential recruiting footprint in Texas.
What Scott has or will shortly realize: There are no slam-dunk solutions that will make everyone cheer.
Miller hits it on the head, as usual. Money is a biggie, no question. And let’s get real, adding two more teams will certainly increase revenue. Why in the world would they even bring up this idea amongst the PAC-10 leadership if it meant LESS amounts of the proverbial pie for each and every PAC-10 school?
Miller’s suggestion of Utah and maybe Colorado make a lot of sense too. Utah, well, Utah has been “PAC-10 ready” for years, in both academics and athletics. This, according to our own blogfather who happens to have taught at the collegiate level, Coug-a-Sutra. And for that matter, Sutra’s had a family member who taught at Utah, and that family member said the very same thing. Not only are they ready to be in the PAC-10, but they want it, and have wanted it, for some time. And, adding the Salt Lake City market to a new PAC-10 TV network could be an easy way to generate revenue! After all, the more TV sets you have to display your product, the better your TV ratings, the more the advertisers pay to pitch their products during timeouts, and therefore, the more money the broadcasters pay for the product, which is PAC-10 football/basketball. It’s a perfect fit.
Colorado, on the other hand, seems a little more tricky. While there have been some reports that they aren’t exactly thrilled with the Big 12, still, they have been in that Big 8/Big 12 Conference alignment for some time. And they like to recruit Texas just as much as any other Big 12 school, would they be able to do so as a member of the PAC-10? They would, but, it might not be as easy playing in another time zone against primarily west coast schools. So, they might have to re-establish many of their SoCal recruiting ties, back to the Bill McCartney era when they were getting a lot more LA kids then they ever had. But Colorado is the furthest west of any Big 12 team, so if the PAC-10 were to try and nab an existing BCS school, with the Denver TV market in tow, they would be the most logical second choice.
As far as what the addition of two more teams would do to scheduling, conference divisions, that sort of thing? It wouldn’t be that hard, would it? You could have a PAC-10 north of, say, WSU, UW, Oregon, Oregon State, Utah and Colorado. In the PAC-10 south, you could have Cal, Stanford, USC, UCLA, Arizona and ASU. Just like the SEC, you schedule five games against your inter-divisional opponents, and three games against the other division, missing three of the schools on the other side of the division. You add three non-conference games, with one cupcake, one mid-level team and one upper-level opponent, and that puts you at 11 regular-season games. Win your division and you play a 12th game, in a PAC-10 title game. Rotate the venue amongst the NFL stadiums in the PAC-10 – Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Denver, Oakland, etc. Not THAT hard, really?
I guess it boils down to keeping up with the rest of the world, or sitting on the sidelines in our old PAC-10 ways. Given the choice, and what’s going on around the rest of the country, I say we sit at the table and feast on whatever additional revenue comes WSU’s way. What do we as WSU fans have to lose at this point??
Some good news on the recruiting front. First, newly signed JC wide receiver Isiah Barton has a new Youtube highlight video online, and it’s pretty impressive. Check it out:
Ok, some sloppy tackling on a few of those highlights….but still, some big-play ability for a Coug offense that is going to need someone to stretch the field next year. Looks good!
Next, a new signee for this year’s class has come through, and this one is a bit of a surprise. Xavier Cooper, a 6-5, 265-lb athletic defensive tackle with 4.8 speed, has signed with WSU. Cooper’s regarded as an excellent athlete, competing in the 100 meter dash in track and able to dunk a basketball with his explosive leaping ability. The surprising part of this story is he is not a JC transfer, rather a late high school signee who didn’t sign with anyone on signing day last week. Turns out academics were a big issue, but at the last moment, they were cleared up per Cougfan. Cooper had interest from Tennessee and Wisconsin, among many, but when the academics were murky the offers weren’t flowing. Looks like it is all systems go now, and even if they aren’t, a grayshirt is a possibility. So, Wulff gets another big, athletic body to add to the class. Nice find for the coaches, and welcome to Pullman Xavier Cooper! Here’s some video for your viewing pleasure (he’s #51 in the highlights):
The Brandon Jones era has come to an end, after Jones was arrested for DUI over the weekend. This wasn’t the first strike for Jones either, after he was suspended in early December on an assault charge. Jones struggled with injuries and inconsistency as a starting corner in ’09. With some young talent coming back in the secondary next year, as well as some new redshirts ready to hit the field, I don’t think Jones will be missed too greatly if you want to know the truth. Probably best for both parties to move on at this point.
Finally, one last look at the Saints and the Super Bowl. This, from a sports bar in New Orleans, at the moment of the game-sealing pick-six, giving the Saints a two-score lead with just a few minutes left to go:
Amazing. Who Dat is right. What a moment for a town that was 85% under water four years ago, they flat-out deserve it!
All for now. GO COUGS!