The Impact Utah Football Will Have on the New Pac-12 Conferenceby Victor Rodriguez on May. 05, 2011, under Sports
This July, Utah, along with Colorado will join the Pac-10, forming the new Pac-12 Conference. With the new TV deal with ESPN and Fox approaching close to $3 billion for 12 years, the Utes and Buffaloes are sure glad they accepted Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott’s invitation to join the conference last summer. But what impact will Utah make with the Pac-10? Will they be able to compete every week against teams that have more talent than where they are coming from?
Utah is a very good football team. As evident of the success they have had over recent years starting with Urban Meyer and continuing with current coach Kyle Whittingham. One of the school’s signature wins came in the 2008 season when the Utes defeated Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl capping off a perfect 13-0 season. Now, any team can beat any team on a neutral site. The real question arises when you have to play elite teams throughout the course of the year. The Utes may struggle in their first year in a new conference. As Whittingham told the Victor and Matt podcast show about whether he is nervous about a challenging season, “Not worried, but anxious. It’s a big challenge and we’ll find out right a way because our first Pac-12 game is at the Coliseum against USC.”
By being part of one of the elite conferences in the country, Utah will no doubt increase the talent they recruit. By playing a majority of games on either ESPN or Fox, Whittingham and his staff are getting into recruits living rooms that they probably were not getting in before. “There has been a lot of excitement and a lot of anticipation,” Whittingham said about joining the Pac-10. “It’s raised the bar in all areas in the level of competition, week in and week out; the recruiting aspect of it, the academic status has been raised. It’s just a win-win for the university as a whole. It’s a big challenge, there’s no doubt about that, but the opportunity to play in a conference like the Pac-12 has been received well by our coaching staff, by our department staff and we’re excited to be going.”
Most likely, Utah will be competitive during the first year, but with so many good teams in the Pac-12 with years of recruiting top of the line talent, the Utes’ string of three-straight years with 10 or more years will come to an end. “There are a lot of good football teams in the Pac-12,” Whittingham told Victor and Matt. “We got our own identity and model that we have followed and I don’t see that changing. I think what we have been doing is very sound and very productive. I just think we need to get better at everything we are doing in recruiting and building new facilities. We said the bar has been raised in all areas. We just need to continue to strive.”