Pac-10 expansion won’t be as … expansiveby Anthony Gimino on Jun. 14, 2010, under Sports
Texas has turned down an offer to join the Pac-10, which means the league’s desire to expand to 16 — which seemed likely for the past few days — is not going to happen.
Nice effort by Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to swing for the fences, but he’s back to his fall-back plan. He already has added Colorado to the Pac-10, and now figures to make a play for Utah to get to a dozen, which would trigger a conference championship game in football.
If you’re an Arizona fan, are you relieved that the Pac-10 isn’t going to be the nation’s first super conference? The proposed 16-team league could have meant a big boost in revenues, but it would have been a change of culture and rivalries if the Wildcats had been aligned with Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas A&M. Not everybody likes big change.
Now, what Arizona and Pac-10 get is smaller change. Scott said expansion could end with Colorado, which hardly seems worth the trouble.
With the move, the Buffaloes might find more recruiting territory open up in California, which is what they need because they haven’t been very competitive in football and men’s basketball in recent seasons. The Buffs don’t change the competitive balance of the Pac-10, as Texas and Oklahoma would have … so for Pac-10 fans, it will mostly be business as usual.
For Texas, it ultimately was a money decision. Of course. What else would it be? By holding the remaining 10 teams in the Big 12 together, Texas is free to start its own TV network, which wouldn’t have been possible in the Pac-10.
The Denver Post quoted a source close to the expansion negotiations that Texas, in the 11th-hour talks, wanted “a better revenue sharing deal and their own network” if it joined the Pac-10.
Scott’s deadline for expansion is the end of the year, before the negotiating begins for a new TV contract. He has time to figure out his next move, if it’s anything beyond adding Utah.
In pursing the Big 12 teams, Scott was bolder than anyone thought possible — and way more creative than former commissioner Tom Hansen — but now he might be out of geographic options.
Still, Scott has signaled that the Pac-10 will be progressive — in expansion and marketing — which is a positive sign for the health of the league.
UPDATE (4:53 p.m.): Here is the official statement from Larry Scott:
“University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the 10 remaining schools in the Big 12 Conference intend to stay together. We are excited about the future of the Pac-10 Conference and we will continue to evaluate future expansion opportunities under the guidelines previously set forth by our Presidents and Chancellors.”