Pac-10 Expansion Hinges On Colorado, And It's Probably Not Happening

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↵The following is from new Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. Internet, commence ↵tizzy: ↵

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↵⇥It really is over the next six to 12 months that we'll start having serious analysis and serious conversations...It makes sense [to consider expansion], if you are going to do it, to do it when you can monetize it and get value for it commercially ↵⇥

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↵What's that, internet, this happened yesterday and therefore you're already all tizzied out? And this whole Texas-talking-to-Big-Ten ↵thing is too spaced out to even freak out about? I see. ↵

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↵If you can work yourself out of your punishing ennui about conference expansion, a brief word: I don't think the Pac-10 is actually going to make a move. In the West Coast version of all those posts about who's a fit for the Big Ten, Oregon blog Addicted to Quack convincingly ↵sliced down everyone within 1,000 miles of a Pac-10 school except for the two schools shepherding the last, best West Coast TV markets: ↵

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↵⇥Here are the top TV markets that are geographically possible: ↵⇥

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↵⇥Denver (18), Salt Lake City (33), Las Vegas (42), Albuquerque (44).  If you're really adventurous, there's also Honolulu (73) and Colorado Springs (91). … ↵⇥

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↵⇥Of the four top-50 markets that would be available to expand into, one thing stands out:  Denver is the gold mine.  The addition of Denver would give the conference eight top-30 markets.  Denver itself adds almost three million viewers, the state of Colorado as a whole almost five million.  Salt Lake City then becomes the next most attractive market at number 33.  This is why you hear about Colorado and Utah as the schools that the Pac-10 is targeting. ↵⇥

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↵Utah would slit throats to get into a BCS conference, leaving Colorado the team that determines whether or not the Big 12 stands or falls. The Pac-10's hypothetical backup options are mediocre WAC/Mountain West teams too unpalatable for a supermajority of conference presidents to accept them. When it comes to academics, the Pac-10 is almost as snooty as the Big Ten, and the existing members of the conference would probably lose out financially if team twelve was Nevada or UNLV or even BYU. (BYU is an athletic fit but not a cultural one—they don't play on Sunday, period—or an academic one.) ↵

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↵So: would Colorado be ready to bolt its longstanding membership in the Big 8, ditch its conference rivalry with Nebraska, and deal with extreme travel distances to every road game? I've followed Missouri's reaction to this from my perch as a Big Ten blogger and their response has been decidedly lukewarm, and that's given the following parameters: ↵

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  • Missouri has a natural rival, Illinois, already in the Big Ten. ↵⇥Colorado does not have one in the Pac-10.
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  • Missouri's geographic fit is considerably less wacky.
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  • The Big Ten would slap Missouri in the mouth with ten million dollars a year, guaranteed, no funny stuff. The Pac-10 would be vaguely hoping to increase its presence without a channel and without the sort of TV-busting ratings the Big Ten pulls.
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↵Despite this, Missouri feels like a tough pull for the Big Ten. ↵Colorado will be even tougher for the Pac-10, and without Colorado the conference has nowhere else to go. In the end, Colorado will probably say no after extracting some concessions and the Pac-10 will probably figure they're better off the way they are right now. ↵

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This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.

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