The Pac-10 scooping up the Utah Utes and Colorado Buffaloes was a move that showed the NCAA landscape was about to change. Larry Scott was revolutionary, and his rebranding efforts and epic Pac-12 marketing videos made us agree that, yes, the Pac-12 is the badass, underrated, underdog in the realm of college sports.
But where are we now? While the Big East and Big 12 seem like they're about to fizzle, the SEC, Big Ten and ACC have begun to go the way of the expanded Pac-12. Well, sort of.
Do realize that the SEC will scoop up Texas A&M, a well-established school from a fellow big-time conference. The ACC most recently ripped the Pittsburgh Panthers and Syracuse Orangemen away from the Big (becoming little) East. And the Big Ten snapped up Nebraska from the Big 12.
Meanwhile, the Pac-10 simply gave a mid-major and a mediocre member of the Big 12 admittance.Not that I was against adding Colorado or Utah at all, but Scott's talk means little if he can't keep the league on the upswing. Texas and Oklahoma's rumors of moving to the west will surely be a safe bed to uphold the hype and the strength of the conference, but what does it mean in the end?
It means more money, we all know that. It also dilutes and dissolves a conference identity shaped on the West Coast attitude of innovation that Scott has built in just a few years on the job. It means that logo of the waves crashing against the Rocky Mountains will include, uh, open fields? Maybe I'm a bit old-school, but isn't that a little weird?
After all, taking over the world or the NCAA means you've conquered, but what does it mean for rivalries, for familiarity. It'll definitely be weird should Arizona and ASU be the west-most schools in any subdivision, and it'll be odd for such a conference schedule to possibly not include those fun Oregon and Stanford football battles (OK, maybe forget about this year, but those were fun the last few season's, right?) and the can't-miss UCLA and Washington hoops clashes.
And the small sports would suffer as well. I'm sure Andy Lopez and Mike Candrea will enjoy the increased budgets, but two years of covering softball for the Daily Wildcat showed me that Candrea won't be thrilled to play in a talent-diluted Pac-16. Say goodbye to the week-after-week challenges of taking on the league that pretty much wins EVERY Women's College World Series -- no more Washington, UCLA, and ASU battles that would lend experience for one of the squads to win it all.
Same with swim, women's volleyball, women's soccer ... yada, yada, yada.
I'm sure Oklahoma, Texas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech are all fine institutions of learning. I know enough that their culture of sports-loving probably trumps that of most any team in the current Pac-12.
But I'm not quite ready to make this superconference. I don't have the answers for Larry Scott to both impress me in making the Pac-12 unique and the best. Yet, I'm not quite sure the easy way to go -- adding big-time schools -- is the right thing to do.
However, the pressure's there and the money is staring Scott in the face. Should he take it?