This is my prediction I have had for awhile and I am only getting more confident in it. Sister site, the Husky Haul, today pointed out more changes seem to be coming this summer and pondered how the Pac-12 should react. They were wondering if we should consider BYU, Boise, UNLV, SDSU, Nevada, or whomever next. I knew it was a little shortsighted last September when Pac-12 presidents decided not to expand. The Pac-12 doesn’t have enough cream at the top and that makes wanting to view all of our content not as attractive to as many across the rest of the nation. Adding a couple more strong teams is important for the Pac-12 if we want to be truely considered in the same breadth as the SEC and possibly soon an expanding Big 12.
My thoughts this morning while looking at the available targets for the PAC were that it is pretty sad we are talking about such teams. Oklahoma, one of the premier blue blood programs in the nation, and Oklahoma St., a new perennial national program with T. Boone were casually written off by the Pac-12 presidents. That is an example of presidents not always knowing best. They were stuck in their slow pace of change thinking and thought, “Hey, we just became the Pac-12″. The clued in people, were adamant that superconferences would be near and were without doubt inevitable. Didn’t matter if it was in 2, 3, 6, or 12 more years. You could bank on plenty more movement ahead.
As I wrote about last September if you have a chance at a PAC-14 you have to take it. Once those two were in, not only were you much stronger and respected right there, but you also essentially guarantee the PAC-16 would be great as well. Odds would have been 85% or higher Texas would have followed, but if the LHN was too big a deal we could wait a year or two at most and still have great options. KU/MU was still possible at the time. KU/KSU was the worst we could have done but logistically it would have worked pretty good. It was just that two Texas schools would best capture markets. TT/KU was a pretty good option since PAC basketball would become instantly among the most elite. UCLA is doing great recruiting wise but you are looking for more premier content for the PAC Networks. I even stated that TCU/TT should be considered and we should get over this Pac-12 president think. One school like TCU does not have much impact on the overall culture and they have a nice campus and are doing great work right now on an expensive stadium improvement of a new side of their stadium.
The bottom line is with OU/OSU on board we would have had our beachhead and been in the cat bird’s seat. The presidents for whatever reason were not most interested in being as strong a conference as they could and guaranteeing they would always be positioned as such. Now, I think we have to look at UNLV and Nevada for the future. Then maybe BYU and BSU or SDSU are the next best overall for the conference. There wasn’t enough foresight by these presidents though. The Pac-12 already has too much weight in the middle and not enough elite programs at the top. That means too many games in between as you wait for those most exciting programs. If I was USC I would start to get annoyed with how many average programs they have to go against.
In life you always have to strike while the iron is hot and we could have had both OU and OSU and had a league that never again would have had any jokes about it struggling somewhat against other premier conferences. Even the before joked about Baylor actually has good potential now moving forward. They are going to build a beautiful stadium by a river and they have a strong recruiting base. They always seem to be in the NCAA basketball tournament in both men’s and women’s as well.
I still think the PAC would be wise to get into Texas. In a few years UTSA will have enough potential. They are improving pretty fast and San Antonio/Southern Texas is one of the best markets out there where future growth will be big. Who to pair them with is the question? Houston would probably be the smartest choice. Houston is the biggest metropolis of South Texas. You could have Nevada/UNLV join the North and those two Texas schools join the South. USC, and the other South teams will get a boost from more Texas recruiting and overall even under a decade later and continually moving forward this grouping would provide the PAC its strongest recruiting base, exposure, markets, etc. I don’t expect the Pac-12 presidents or ADs to get it immediately but when they move on to become Big 12 commishioners and become your serious competition, you just have to realize that the landscape will move with or without you.
The strong rumor is the Big 12 will expand this summer, with atleast 2 teams. Possibly Florida St. and Clemson or Louisville. They also are said to have started behind doors talks with Georgia Tech, Maryland and Notre Dame. Notre Dame/BYU could even get a combined deal where ND remains independent for Football but joins for all other sports. The other possibility mentioned in the past is a ND playing half their schedule against Big 12 opponents and the rest amongst traditionally scheduled foes. I am not sold on the ND talk, and I think MD prefers the Big Ten but I would say that gap has the potential to narrow for them. If the Big 12 raids two ACC schools many believe the SEC would follow by adding NC State and Virginia Tech to become the first 16 team league. I personally have a strong belief that the SEC will be at 16 teams by 2014 at the latest. They have a lot of money to make off a SEC Network and the balance of their divisions and scheduling would also be improved.
The talk is Oklahoma wants the Big 12 to be a 14 team league sooner rather than later. Ironically, the West Virginia add and having 6 spots left gives them great flexibility. Their new TV deal is expected to be 20 million per team but preserves all Tier 3 rights for schools. That can be good for certain select schools, but overall the conference Network model as the Pac-12 has will without doubt prove to be the clear winner and most successful. The Big 12 does have expansion clauses though where their deal can go up some and a Championship Game also will likely provide a few extra million per team.
I don’t know about you but if we were getting ready for Oklahoma and Oklahoma St. coming into all the Pac-12 stadiums this year I would feel amazing. Every team those two play would be a premier event and only serve to bolster up the entire conference. I have no doubt even ole OSU would have been forced to evolve into a tougher player. The same can’t be said if we add UNLV, even though they are one of the few decent fits left.