OK, here's my instant reaction to the Rivals.com report that the Pac-10 is set to invite six teams from the Big 12 to create a 16-team mega conference -- with the enormous caveat that I'm not sure I believe such an offer is imminent.
But let's assume that this is actually true.
First of all, this makes a ton of sense for all involved from the Pac-10 side. The Big Ten was the one targeting mega expansion, and this would be a tremendous preemptive strike from a conference that too often has been too stuck in its archaic definition of student athletics to do the best thing for the conference. No sloppy seconds this time.
The potential for revenue is obvious -- and one of the reasons a 12-team conference just doesn' t make much sense. In order for expansion to work for the Pac-10, the revenue divided between schools in the new conference has to be more than the revenue they could get with the 10 they've got. The potential of that happening by adding Colorado and Utah was slim.
But this? When you add the kinds of teams that the article mentions -- Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado -- you're bringing some serious clout to any potential broadcast rights negotiations. You'd have more than enough programming for a satellite network, and would instantly make yourself at least the second-most desirable football conference to current broadcast outlets.
The article speculates such a move would add $20 million to each of the 16 schools' coffers. Based off what schools in the SEC and Big Ten currently earn, that actually passes the sniff test, believe it or not. And we all know how much WSU could use that kind of increase in revenue.
Now, the larger philosophical argument against expansion has been that it ruins whatever notion of tradition the presidents of the Pac-10 have been clinging to. But this arrangement is actually more like turning back the clock for most of the current Pac-10. Here is what the divisions would look like, according to Rivals:
|Division A||Division B|
|Washington State||Texas Tech|
Essentially, you'd have two eight-team conferences teaming up to benefit the whole. One would be reverting back to the Pac-8, while the other would combine the two least-tenured Pac-10 institutions with the most desirable Big 12 schools. WSU (and the other Northwest schools) would retain their presence in California and keep their traditional rivals, while Arizona and ASU would replace their presence in California with a presence in Texas -- an equally fertile recruiting ground.
If this is really going to be on the table soon, I see absolutely no downside to this whatsoever from a Washington State perspective. In fact I'll go even one better than that: This would be tremendous for WSU.
Assuming, of course, that this is real.
For developing coverage of this story, visit SBNation.com's Pac-10 expansion StoryStream.
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