PAC-10 EXPANSION: Geographic divisions?

Grady covered the "zipper" method of divisional alignment last night, so I'm going to play devil's advocate and cover aligning the division geographically. Both of these methods have pros and cons, but the geographic alignment may be Larry Scott's choice when all is said and done.

The split of the conference would be almost as simple as looking at a map:

North
Washington
Washington State
Oregon
Oregon State
California
Stanford

South
UCLA
USC
Colorado
Utah
Arizona
Arizona State

As Nuss mentioned earlier, it's simple. Anyone can look at the conference and quickly be able to deduce why it was split up this way. The problem with arbitrarily assigning teams to divisions is the artificiality of it all. Splitting a conference in a non-geographical way creates confusion and takes apart the rivalries that have already been built over many years. If you'd like a model that just throws darts at a dartboard to determine divisions, see the ACC.

Travel costs and times are also a factor in all of this. By splitting the conference up based on location, teams cut their travel costs and times down significantly. In a zipper division, schools are traveling up and down the coast for conference games. Geographically, the farthest WSU would have to travel for a non-crossover game would be Northern California.

Splitting rivals up into different divisions takes the most fun part of a rivalry game out

But wait, what about recruiting? Everyone needs access to those fertile Southern California recruiting grounds. Relax. The Northern schools will still be at California/Stanford every year and in Southern California every other year. In addition, a conference network will ensure that full coverage of every team will be available throughout the conference footprint. It isn't like there won't be any exposure.

The most important thing to remember when discussing recruiting is that as little as 5 years ago, the conference played an unbalanced schedule. Northwest schools weren't guaranteed a trip to Southern California every year. We all survived and will continue to survive. It isn't a big deal.

In basketball, the conferences would be the same. Each division plays a home and home series, with each team either playing a home or away game against every opponent from the other division. The crossover games would alternate every year.

Aligning the conference geographically is, admittedly, the easy way out. It's simple to do, makes travel easier, and doesn't cut off the Northwest schools from the rest of the world as much as you may think. It may not seem ideal to some, but it won't be the end of the world.

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