It is official. It no longer is the Pac-10. From today forward, until there is further expansion, it is the Pac-12. They are having a party at Folsom Field today and will be donning new Pac-12 gear. In Utah, they are having larger festivities befitting the move from a non AQ conference to a big time rising star AQ conference under the exciting leadership of Larry Scott. Scott got the go ahead for expansion over a year ago as university presidents agreed it was time for the Pac-10 to step out of the shadows and properly showcase its stuff. Under Hansen, they were just not getting their fair or proper worth, and so the presidents wisely actually went out and found Scott who had not long before secured major advances for the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) by getting them the same prize money as the men in major tournaments. For the bottom line and accelerating the reputation of the conference, it appears there could not have been a better suited man for the job.
So lets look at the new additions of Colorado and Utah and how they will fit into the conference. There was some debate as to how to have the divisions for the Pac-12. Colorado thought Scott had told them they would most likely have a spot in a Pac-12 South with the LA schools. The California schools, however, were intent on being sure they played each other every year. Washington’s AD was pounding the table that he still wanted good LA exposure. In the end Scott’s original division ideas were used with the Northern California schools joining the North and the new schools joining the South. Even though this reduced the LA games for the NW schools it made sure both divisions were seen by the nation as equally sexy and appealing. The other thing to note is that the MountainZona schools have less access to the Bay Area so it does give the NW schools a better shot at landing recruits from this hotbed. Almost all the pundits acknowledge that the North is stronger now, but when USC starts getting its big time swagger back the balance should be ideal.
The North will have plenty of opportunity to make a big name for itself. With the conference championship game being played at the home field of the highest seed, one can imagine a few such games at Autzen and other places in the North. How soon the Beavers break through to host one will depend on if Oregon State can become a full rival to Oregon more like the year 2000 when Oregon State, Oregon and Washington were all Top 10 teams and the tug of war was intense. There may be other opportunities as well under the new Pac-12 banner. Scott has announced that he will take applications for hosting the men’s or women’s basketball tournaments through an August 12th deadline. Seattle will make a bid. Most people I know think Portland’s Rose Garden would be a fantastic place to host a tournament, but we do not have confirmation if the Oregon schools are bidding yet. It would be a big disappointment if they did not in my opinion.
I especially would like to see more leadership from Bob DeCarolis and Craig Robinson on this front. The Far West Classic used to be a great way for the Oregon schools to tap into their Portland based fans early in the season and with Gill Coliseum less than full on gamedays it seems lackluster to not try to grow and maintain broader fan support in the state and region. Still, today is about new beginnings. The conference will bring in 250 million a year in its 12 year 3 billion MegaTV deal. This averages to about 21 million per team a year and is before the Pac-12 and digital networks are added. The total figure is expected to swell to around 400 million annually for the conference once these components are added which would average 33.33 million per school a year.
The times are exciting for the Pac-12 and we can now get down to some exciting games. There will be Pac-12 games on more nights and with ESPN and Fox the exposure will be outstanding. It is very possible with a partner like Google that not only will every football and basketball game be broadcasted, but that fans will be able to find alot of content for the less revenue producing sports as well. It could very well be that every Oregon State baseball game is available by stream. Soccer matches will be possible to find and the same with checking out the Oregon State track team on their new field.
Now it is time to get ready for the fall and some heavy football action. Get tickets and join the party if you can. Oregon State may not be Rose Bowl bound this year but with better recruits on the way and our receiving corps getting more talented we are due to see some good aerial attack for the next few years. I am optimistic too that a talented running back will emerge in Riley’s system. It may be Terron Ward or Storm Woods. Bottom line is Oregon State will still have its chances and be a factor in the Pac-12 North. As we begin the new Pac-12 era I want your opinion on if Oregon State should be more aggressive in getting its name out there by leading a bid to have Portland as the site for a Pac-12 men’s or women’s basketball conference championship. To me it has been disappointing that Oregon has hosted all the NCAA early round action at the Rose Garden and OSU has quietly remained on the sidelines as it tries to restore the tradition of its basketball program.