Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

16 Jun 2010

Pac-10 Invites University Of Utah To Become Twelfth Member

Needless to say, the odds are very good that the Utes will accept the offer. Assuming the Big Ten is done for now (it will almost certainly be a few months before they decide whether to make another move or not), that leaves our conference realignment scorecard as follows:

Big Ten
Adds Nebraska

Big 12
Loses Nebraska
Loses Colorado

Pac-10 Pac-12
Adds Colorado
Adds Utah

Mountain West
Loses Utah
Adds Boise State

Historically, this would constitute a downright blizzard of activity. But after all the rumors from the last few weeks, this seems somewhat underwhelming. Regardless, the Pac-10 will likely have a new name, two conferences (Pac-10, Big Ten) will be adding conference championship games, one conference will likely be losing a conference championship game ... and yes, the Big Ten has 12 teams and the Big 12 has ten. Good times all around.

Posted by: Bill Connelly on 16 Jun 2010

30 comments, Last at 21 Jun 2010, 12:58pm by Displaced Cane


by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 6:05pm

... aaand the MWC's hope for an autoberth in 2012 went from being automatic to "God, we hope some of the other conferences start sucking."

by jack :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 8:00pm

What makes no sense to me is why the Big12 isn't begging TCU to come on board. 3 top tens and 3 top 25s is a hell of a lot better than what Colorado (and really Nebraska) have done in the last 8 years. If that happens, they need one more school (and after Arkansas publicly said no, I'm not sure who that would be) to not have to suspend the conference championship game.

by socctty :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 8:17pm

Maybe the University of Houston?

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 8:36pm

Apparently Texas doesn't like the conference championship game (though the only teams they've lost the game to are no longer members of the Big 12). Rumor has it they'll be playing a 2005-2011 Pac-10 style 9-game round robin.

Also, while TCU is good on the field, they wouldn't bring in much revenue on the margin; the best moves they could probably make from that perspective are adding BYU and Memphis (presuming Fred Smith is serious about $10m/yr in FedEx money).

by Bill Connelly :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 9:01pm

If the Big 12ish is going to expand, it's going to be into new markets (Memphis, Louisville, Cincinnati, whatever) -- now that they're committing to this big TV contract, any new team is going to need to be able to generate really nice revenue so the per-team payout doesn't drop. While TCU would be a great football addition, they don't add nearly enough to make the numbers work.

(Plus, as has already been said, everybody seems perfectly okay with dropping the title game, despite the revenue it generates.)

by IlluminatusUIUC (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 1:32pm

Did this big TV contract ever get confirmed? The last I had heard, it was Beebe's own internal projections, and I found them highly self-serving and suspect.

by Muldrake (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:00pm

There really aren't that many teams that are even remotely available that can replace Nebraska in terms of revenue. Frank the Tank did an analysis on expected revenue increases by team for the Big Ten Network when the Big 10 was deciding whether to expand:


There really isn't a viable candidate to replace Nebraska's 3.57 average national TV share; there's just no way that TCU, Houston, Memphis, Cincy or anyone else could replace that. That's what makes the FOX deal so crazy and leads me to think that there is something missing about the dollars they are reporting they can deliver...especially since the actual negotiations aren't for another year. All they've done is say they can deliver that kind of money and are reportedly not actually entering real negotiations at this point.

by Brian Fremeau :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 9:12pm

Connectivity in college football is going to take a hit following this off-season shuffle. The Big 12 is pledging to play nine conference games. The Pac 10 is likely to continue a nine-conference game model. The Big Ten may do the same.

If all of them do it, that's 24 non-conference games that would be replaced annually by 12 conference games. If only the Big 12 and Pac 10 do so, that's still 12 non-conference games traded for 6 conference ones. There are only 296 non-conference games (including 87 FBS vs. FCS) scheduled in 2010.

by CuseFanInSoCal :: Wed, 06/16/2010 - 11:41pm

I would have thought it likely that the Pac 10 will go back to an 8-game conference schedule, and that the Big Ten will carefully consider the idea... and reject it because while some Big Ten coaches may have problems with math, I doubt Delaney does. At this point they know quite well the competitive disadvantage it gives the Pac 10 (this isn't difficult; half the teams get an extra loss). As long as the SEC is playing 8 conference games, and the championship is determined by bowls and polls, there's no way I'd play more than that if I were running a conference.

by Pat (filler) (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 8:48am

It depends if the non-con they replace is an FBS or FCS school. Conference games are likely as safe revenue-wise as a home game versus an FCS school. In that case, well, it doesn't help connectivity, but it doesn't hurt.

Really, anything that can boost revenues for the schools at this point I'm all for - with the economy being what it is, the schools just flat out need those home games, and FCS schools are becoming the only way to get them.

by ChrisH :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 1:48pm

As an Oregon State fan, I love the Pac-10's Round Robin schedule, since no team can get a year off from USC, Oregon, or anyone else and still win the conference, so everyone has a fairly equal shot at the Rose Bowl. However, once you can't have that level playing field (with 12 teams), I'd also say to go to the minimum. The SEC is rewarded for having their top teams often play cream-puff early schedules to boost their records, and rankings, so when 5-0 Georgia and 5-0 Florida meet, it looks like two great teams playing, even if they might have only played one team with a pulse all year.

Once the BCS kept reducing down the importance of Strength of Schedule, and increasing the importance of the polls, the incentive to play those harder teams often went away. If I'm running the Pac 10 and my concerns are getting teams into the BCS title game, and then getting teams into better bowls to make more money, I'm playing fewer conference games, more non-conference games at home against crappier teams (half the teams would get an extra home game and all the extra revenue from it), and not worrying about what the non-conference SOS is since having teams with good early records looks better than teams playing hard schedules (OSU opening at TCU and BSU might help us prepare for the Pac-10 slate, but unless they win both, it won't help their ranking).

by Roscoe :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:44am

Getting very tired of this whole SEC cream puff schedule thing, especially when you can look this stuff up on line. When they played Florida last year, GA has already played Ok. State, Tenn., LSU, Arizona St., Ark. South Car. and Vandy. The year before they played Az. State, LSU, Tenn., South Car., Vandy, and Bama before the Florida game. Sure there are a couple of easy games slotted in there, but anybody who thinks the standard SEC schedule is easy ain't paying attention.

by Displaced Cane :: Mon, 06/21/2010 - 12:58pm

2009 SEC non-con schedules:

UF: Charleston Southern, Troy, FIU, FSU
Tenn: Western Kentucky, UCLA, Ohio, Memphis
UGA: Ok St., Arizona St., Tenn Tech, Ga Tech
S. Carolina: NC St., FAU, SC St., Clemson
Ky: Miami (OH), Louisville, La.-Monroe, Eastern KY
Vandy: Western Carolina, Rice, Army, GA Tech
Bama: Va. Tech, FIU, N. Texas, Tenn-Chattanooga
LSU: Washington, LA-Lafayette, Tulane, LA Tech
Ole Miss: Memphis, SE LA, UAB, Northern AZ
Arkansas: MO St., TX A&M, E. Mich., Troy
Auburn: LA Tech, WVU, Ball St., Furman
Miss St.: Jackson St., GA Tech, Houston, Middle Tenn

UGA definitely deserves credit for scheduling tough non-con opponents, but some of the others are laughable.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:34pm

I'm one the connectivity-be-damned people. I know that it's true for rankings and such that the non-conference schedule is really important. But as an Oregon fan, all I want to do is watch the Ducks play OSU, UW, WSU, Cal, Stanford, UCLA and USC. And the Arizona schools, too, I suppose. In terms of getting viewers, especially in the regional markets that conferences care about, conference games are the way to go.

Connectivity has been getting worse, and both objective rankings & subjective polling have all taken a hit because of it. And I'm not unsympathetic, but ultimately conferences have to look out for their own and what's best for their institutions. At least we'll know the top teams from each conference. If only there was some way to have a system where we would then be able to see who are the best football teams from amongst this group by them playing each other after the season has completed. I wonder what that would look like? Besides partly solving the esoteric connectivity question, there's a chance it could be fun to watch as well...

by @nonymous (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:28pm

I feel like if the Pac-10 really wanted to expand, they should have went after Boise State instead of Colorado.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:40pm

Boise is a still too new. They've been great lately, no doubt, but Colorado has a rather long tradition in football, including a National Championship, which is more than the Oregon schools combined. It's a long way to the top, and Boise is just getting started.

Also, Denver/Aurora/Boulder is a bit bigger than Boise. And Colorado has a much larger (if more fair-weather) fan base, with some level of national following. Ultimately, this is why Colorado is a better "fit" - they can bring more chips to the table. And by chips, I mean money.

by Thok :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 4:06pm

Academics matter, and both the University of Colorado and Utah are much better academic schools then Boise State.

by ChaosOnion (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 4:41pm

Money matters. CO brings the Denver market and UT brings the Salt Lake City market. Boise St. brings half of Idaho.

by Thok :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 4:44pm

Academics is why Utah and not BYU is joining the Pac-10; BYU clearly has a bigger market share than Utah does.

by Adam B. :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 5:09pm

Actually, I thought it was the public/secular v. private/religious thing.

by zlionsfan :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 5:32pm

My understanding (from posts I've seen from people who live in Pac-12 country) is that a school that chooses not to play on Sundays becomes a difficult fit in a lot of sports. The Mountain West doesn't have as much of a problem with it, most likely due to a (much) smaller television contract and thus fewer requirements.

Aside from that, I'm not sure that the secular vs. religious difference is a problem. Being a private school probably isn't much of an issue either; that's more of a numbers game. (There just aren't that many private schools of sufficient size to fit the requirements of most I-A conferences compared to the number of public schools that do.)

by DD (not verified) :: Fri, 06/18/2010 - 12:23am

That's not really true. The USNews rankings are the only comprehensive one out of there, so I have to use them, and BYU ranks 71st which is actually ahead of Colorado and puts them in the middle of the Pac-10 academically. Utah is 126th, which is only better of Oregon State.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:46pm

Also, I know the Pac-10 (12?) has been reticent about it, but I still think they should go after BYU as well. It's the Mormons, but let's not let our religious prejudices get in the way of adding two natural, geographic rivals. They both are very good schools athletically and academically, with BYU even able to bring a (rather strange, I know) football national championship. Why not collect the whole set?

by Lola was a dude (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 2:55pm

Probably don't need two teams from the Utah market. And I'll let my religious prejudices get in the way of whatever I please, thank you very much.

by TomKelso :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 3:19pm

I think it's going a little far to say they were prejudiced against Mormons. ESPN made a big deal early on that there would be a clash of "cultures" between Pac 10 schools and BYU, but that had more to do with academics -- and academic freedom -- than with religion.

I find it hard to believe that a conference willing to invite Texas A&M would have objected to BYU, if the Cougars would have brought in anywhere near the fanbase or viewership that the Aggies would have.

Oh, and if there is a Senator from Utah on the Judiciary Committee who's already making noise about anti-trust activity and your monopolisitc cash cow, having even a whiff of bias against his religion would be a very dumb idea.

by Will Allen (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 6:36pm

I think that is the only reason the Mountain West still has a chance of getting an autoberth, especially if the Republicans pick up a lot of seats in November.

by Duck in MA (not verified) :: Thu, 06/17/2010 - 9:58pm

I was only speaking from a more personal side of things. Most of the people I speak to (Oregon alums) were much higher on Utah than BYU, despite the fact that Utah is also basically entirely populated by Mormons. It was the overt religious school thing, which I guess is part of the (very) secular cultural aspect of the Pac-10. Washington, Oregon and California as states are all less religious than the national average, while Utah is more. I don't think the Pac-10 as a conference cares about this at all; so long as you can bring the fans to watch the games and buy the merchandise then they will be happy.

Another point I heard (not sure how true) was that BYU wants to ensure that they don't have to compete on sundays. This doesn't do much for football (saturdays) or basketball (thursday/saturday); I don't know how that may influence other sports. This really doesn't seem to be much of a hurdle at all, but you never know what factors go into making these deals happen.

by TomKelso :: Sat, 06/19/2010 - 1:58pm

The only time it's ever come up is when BYU qualifies for the NCAA basketball tournament. When that occurs, the Cougars are always put in the Thursday/Saturday half of a regional that will play on Thursdays and Saturdays if the Coogs make the Sweet 16.

But since Utah brings the Pac-10(12) into the market without that mild aggravation, there was really no need to invite both of them. I wouldn't be surprised if the hostility between the two schools grows because of this, though, since it seems Utah abandoned her old friends (to continue that hilarious high school analogy from the Big 12 thread) the first time the really cute senior bothered to talk to her.

by AnotherAnonymous (not verified) :: Sun, 06/20/2010 - 1:18am

Bah. To correct your analogy, it's more like the U getting accepted to an Ivy while their annoying little cousin BYU flunked out of high school. As a Ute fan, I'm now a hypocrite and entirely in favor of the BCS, since it retains all of its good qualities (keeping BYU in their place) while recognizing that Utah is good enough to compete.

Also, I'm betting that Republican senator is going to make noise when his reelection bid comes up in two years, especially since the other GOP incumbent got thrown out in the primary. Our AG has also been threatening an antitrust lawsuit for a while now.

by TomKelso :: Sun, 06/20/2010 - 6:40pm