Larry Scott has to figure out how to create a fair divisional alignment for all of the Pac-12 teams. Whatever he decides in July will only be temporary. In that regard, alignment doesn't even matter in the long run. (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
All of the talk since the Pac-12 has expanded has centered on whether the revenue that may be generated outweighs the negatives of adding two more teams. One of the biggest arguments against adding Colorado and Utah is that it breaks up the traditions of the Pac-10.
The California schools all want to play each other due to the rivalries that have been fostered. The Northwest schools want games in Southern California to keep a recruiting football there. This piece isn't about the pro's and con's of any of that, which have been weighed extensively everywhere.
Whether the word comes down that the Pac-12 is using a "zipper" alignment, geographic alignment, or some off the wall choice we hadn't thought of, every school will have some sort of gripe.
I'm here to tell you that it doesn't matter one bit. There is virtually no chance that this is the final move for Larry Scott and the conference. Instead, the move to twelve teams was a stepping stone to more expansion, namely another four teams and a sixteen team conference. In three to five years, the divisional alignment and scheduling problems we're currently weighing will fix themselves.
From watching Scott work over the last few months, it's apparent his vision stretches farther than simply Utah and Colorado. The Pac-12 wants to continue to expand eastward, specifically into Texas and Oklahoma, as was apparent during the near Big 12 coup. When such expansion does happen, the California and Northwest schools will all be reunited and all will be forgotten.
I know the traditionalists will point to the 100+ meetings between the Cal schools or the beauty of the round robin schedule (RIP at the age of 5 years old), but in the long run a divisional alignment that prevents some of these things will only be a blip on the radar of history.
Over the course of five years, the recruiting impact will be minimal. The Northwest schools will get plenty of opportunities to play California schools and when expansion happens again, the days of playing in Southern California every year will be restored. At the end of the day, there probably won't be a notable difference over the short time line of half a decade. Don't worry, those kids won't forget there are schools up here during that short time.
In addition to this only being temporary on the recruiting front, the money to be made from the new television contract and the addition of a conference network can easily offset any hit in recruiting. Can't play USC or UCLA every year? No problem, that larger recruiting budget allows schools to travel down there with more frequency. The money to be made here softens the blow of having to make some changes.
In the short term, everyone needs to make concessions to make the transition to twelve smooth. If there's infighting and teams making power plays, it makes the Pac-12 no better than the Big 12.
Grin and bear it because I can almost guarantee this is all temporary.