Daily Roundtable - Should The Pac 10 Expand?

Posted May 27, 2009

Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be? Does the league need a conference title game to get more exposure? It's the Wednesday topic in the CFN Daily Roundtable Discussion.

CFN Daily Roundtables

May 27

Should the Pac 10 expand? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

- May 18 No BCS, No Weis?
- May 19 Does 2008 Utah have a beef?
- May 20 When should preseason polls come out?
- May 21 Is Tebow the best QB ever?

- May 22 2009's most interesting teams 
- May 25 Heisman race sleepers 
- May 26 Chizik, Kiffin or Mullen? 

Over the next several weeks, as part of the CFN 2009 Preview, we'll examine some of the key questions going into the year with a daily discussion of the big topics.

Pete Fiutak, CFN 

Q: Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

No. Not only should the Pac 10 not get a championship game, the SEC, ACC, and Big 12 should ditch theirs.

They're gimmicks, they're unnecessary, and most of all, they've been sort of dry. Oh sure, the SEC title game last year was epic with Florida beating unbeaten and No. 1 Alabama for a spot in the national title, and there have been some decent moments in several title games, but quick, name who played in last year's ACC championship. If it takes you a moment, don't worry; you and about 50,000 other people didn't go to see Virginia Tech beat Boston College for the second year in a row aren't the only ones who'd struggle to answer it.

When it comes to the Pac 10, I love the nine game conference schedule and wish the other leagues would ditch non-conference games to come up with more conference battles and a true champion. It makes my sense of inner justice happy to know that the Pac 10 and Big East champions are true, unlike the title holders in the other BCS leagues. If some Big Ten teams miss Ohio State, and some SEC teams miss Florida, it's hard to truly be happy with the results.

For those who want Pac 10 expansion and a championship game because you like the format and you want the closure of a season-ending battle, fine. You like what you like, but don't throw out the argument that the Pac 10 needs a title game to get more respect from the BCS. Ask Ohio State if you need a conference championship game to play for the national title. Ask West Virginia, who would've been playing for it all in 2007 if it had beaten Pitt in the regular season finale. USC hasn't missed out on playing for the national championship because it didn't get a conference championship game, and that includes 2003 (remember, the rules and BCS set up has been changed and tweaked).

Yes, the SEC and the Big 12 have gotten extra exposure from having the big end of the year extravaganza, but it wouldn't have mattered much in the final equation over the last few years if the Trojans had blasted away on, say, Oregon, in early December. USC would've played for the national championship in 2006 if it hadn't gagged against UCLA, it would've played for it all in 2007 if it hadn't gagged at home against Stanford, and it would've played for it all last year if it hadn't lost to Oregon State. Is that fair, considering there isn't a playoff? Not necessarily (that's another argument for another day), but it's not like the Pac 10 has gotten that hosed when it comes to the national title. Remember, had Oregon not lost star QB Dennis Dixon to a knee injury late in 2007, it probably would've ended up playing for the national championship. The world follows the Pac 10 more than many Pac 10 fans believe, and there doesn't need to be a championship game to get more attention.

Now, if the Pac 10 decides to add on two teams, then the great debate begins. Forget about what has happened on the field; wins and losses don't necessarily matter. The Pac 10 will only expand if 1) the academic side of things fit the profile, 2) if the TV market becomes expanded and improved, and 3) if it ups the prestige of the league. While Boise State and Hawaii might be interesting, it's not like the Pac 10 head honchos are desperate to get the Idaho and Hawaii markets. And they're probably not going to be all that fired up to own Utah, either.

And that's the problem. From the standpoint of competitive athletics, BYU and Utah make the most sense to add, but does anyone care if the league adds Salt Lake City to the TV package? Maybe a little bit, but not that much. They're a good geographical fit, too, but so are Fresno State, New Mexico, San Diego State, and UNLV, who would be more in the mix for a spot than many might think. Forget about stealing someone like Colorado, or anyone from the Big 12; the Big 12 isn't the old Big East. No one would want to leave the Big 12 for the Pac 10, just like no one would ever leave the SEC for the ACC. It's just not going to happen.

With all that said, will the Pac 10 ever take on two new teams? Probably, It might take a few years, but it'll probably happen.

Richard Cirminiello, CFN

Q: Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

No way. I’ve always loved the way the Pac-10 is symmetrically constructed and balanced. Two schools perfectly situated in Arizona, Washington, Oregon, Northern California, and Southern California. It’s tailor-made for rivalries and, unlike the ACC and Big East, makes sense to the folks at Hagstrom.

Best of all, since the advent of a 12-game schedule a few years back, every Pac-10 team plays each other annually, which is how things ought to be. No grey areas, such as the great Ohio State-Iowa debate of 2002, and no fluky scheduling advantages, like when Kansas missed Texas and Oklahoma in its 2007 Orange Bowl season. If you want to win a conference title, you be better prepared to go through the entire gauntlet. What a novel concept.

Finally, I despise the league championship games. Always have. To me, it’s overkill and too often, the games don’t live up to the hype. Either every league should have them or, preferably, every league should not. Yeah, yeah, I know the economic impact of, say, an SEC title game in Atlanta, but since your coiffures aren’t personally impacted, do you really get jacked up for these games? I can understand the appeal if the Pac-10 can attract a twin-killing, like BYU and Utah, but two more teams mean another league championship in early December, which I can do without. Honestly, do you really need to see South Division champ USC pound North Division champ Oregon at a neutral site? I’d pass and keep things static in the Pac-10.       

Matthew Zemek, CFN

Q: Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

No, I'm not for Pac-10 expansion. The league has been progressive in implementing a nine-game league schedule, so that all teams play each other during the year, thereby avoiding an Ohio State-Iowa scenario from the 2002 season.
What the Pac-10 needs--if I might digress for a few seconds--is real leadership from incoming commissioner Larry Scott, the former CEO of the Sony Ericsson WTA (tennis) Tour. Specifically, the league needs a real TV contract and some creative ideas to increase the visibility of Pac-10 football and Western football in general.
Back to the question at hand: If the league--which, remember, used to be the Pac-8 before Arizona and Arizona State were admitted from the WAC in the mid-1970s--wanted to move to 12 teams, BYU and Utah would be the two natural candidates for expansion. San Diego State might merit a look in the future, but not now.

Kevin Cardin
, Publisher, SCPlaybook.com

Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

A: I am actually against Pac-10 expansion for the simple fact that I don’t think it is needed at this point. The Pac-10 gets it right by having nine conference games instead of opting for eight like conferences such as the SEC, who then allow their teams go out and schedule yet another cupcake to pad their records.

In the Pac-10, you play every team in the conference every single season, so by the end of the year you know who the true champion is and don’t need a conference championship game.

In conferences like the SEC and the Big 12 that have twelve teams and eight conference games, you miss playing three conference teams a year. Then they have a conference championship game that at times doesn’t even include the two best teams in the conference.

The Pac-10’s problem is they need a better TV deal and better bowl games to enhance their national exposure and change the perception that they are a weak conference before they worry themselves with expansion.

Jon Miller, Publisher, HawkeyeNation.com

Q: Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

A: 10 seems to be a pretty good number to me.  Expanding the league only makes sense if you want to have a league championship game, but as I see it there isn’t a reason for that.  Why?  Because every team in that league plays one another.  Expanding the league only makes sense if you want to have a league championship game.

If you were going to expand that league, which direction do you go?  Do you try to steal Colorado from the Big 12?  They might be interested, because that league seems to be a 10 team subsidy for Texas and Oklahoma.  Boise State?  Their fans would be all for it, but their stadium seats just over 30,000.  Utah seats closer to 50,000 and they make geographical sense, too, but you don’t bring in both of those programs.  I don’t know that you look to bring Fresno State in, but they can put over 40,000 in their stadium, too.

Do you look at Hawaii?  Maybe.  I just think in the end, 10 is a good number for that league, they play one another during the year and they are aligned with the Rose Bowl.  Why change?

Hunter Ansley, Publisher, DraftZoo.com

Q: Are you for Pac 10 expansion? If it adds two teams, who should they be?

Yeah, I'm for Pac 10 expansion.  I think the sooner we get conference championship games for all of the conferences, the sooner we'll start to see a playoff as a real possibility.  But that's another discussion.

With another game, a championship game, the Pac 10 would receive increased viewership, and we'd finally stop hearing so much about the "East Coast bias."  Anything that slows that down I'll welcome with open arms.  Not to mention the fact that we might finally get to see USC play an SEC team in the BCS title.

I'd add Utah and BYU to the Pac 10.  Geographically, they make sense.  And then there's the history that a school like BYU would add to the conference.  And while both teams have been pretty successful lately, Utah has far and away been the most prestigious of the non-BCS teams during the BCS era.  As an added bonus, the conference would acquire one of the more underrated rivalry games in the country, The Holy War.  That's an aspect of expansion that's rarely talked about.  It'd be hard to break the two up.  Boise State and Fresno State got some consideration from me, but adding two rivals that basically play Pac 10 teams every year anyway just makes too much sense.