BYU and Utah to the Pac-10: What Happens to the Mountain West?

D. WalkerAnalyst IFebruary 10, 2010

All of a sudden there is a whole lot of "breaking speculation" regarding the Pac-10 expansion.

Larry Scott, Commissioner of the Pac-10, didn't help stop the rumors when he was on a media conference call yesterday.

"To me, the logic if the Pac-10 is going to think about expanding, now is our window," Scott said.

"The reason being that if you're going to consider a reconstruction of the conference, there's a value proposition associated with that. Given that we're about to have negotiations regarding our media rights, it makes sense that if you're going to do it, to do it when you can monetize it and get value from it commercially."

Scott said there have been "no serious discussions" with any schools. He said the primary factor in the decision will be finding schools that fit the conference culturally and academically.

"I know that's of paramount importance to our presidents and chancellors," Scott said. "There are other economic and athletic considerations such as increased costs that would be involved, increased travel that would be involved, splitting the pie in more ways."

So let's just dive into the Pac-10 expansion "speculation game" for a bit. It seems to be the thing to do these days.

First of all, we need a list of the possible additions to the Pac-10. Here are the schools I have picked from articles and other "speculation reports" concerning the expansion rumors: Boise State, Fresno State, BYU, Utah, Colorado, and TCU.

Granted, I may have missed one or two but the list above will do for now because the schools listed are the only ones that make any sense at all. At that, some on the list don't make any sense either.

I know.

I'm confused too.

Boise State and Fresno State would have a tough time with one very major element, which most don't want to bring out of the closet: academics.

While Fresno is ahead of BSU academically, it would have a hard time meeting the high standards of the Pac-10 schools. Academics alone would shoot both FSU and BSU out of the water.

Forget about Colorado; they're not going to leave the Big 12. Period.

TCU? You can scratch that one too.

TCU is a fine private university with quality academics, but their location is the issue and because of the location they would lack a natural travel partner, which is another key element of expansion consideration.

Let's see now, that leaves BYU and Utah.

Both schools make perfect sense for a lot of reasons. Both schools would fit the academic profile of the Pac-10.

Both schools would provide the perfect travel partner and the two schools happen to be located in a top 50 media market (Salt Lake is now the No. 36 television market), which in the end becomes very important.

Oh sure, there's a bit of a potential schedule problem with BYU's "no Sunday games" rule, but that can be overcome because it generally only deals with basketball and Sunday games are rare.

If Utah and BYU were to bail out of the MWC and go to the Pac-10, what happens to the Mountain West and their goal of a BCS automatic qualifier status?

I happen to think that would end all hope of the MWC becoming the next AQ conference. Utah and BYU mean too much to the "AQ package" that the BCS would be looking for.

Both BYU and Utah have been ranked among the top 25 for almost every one of the past five to eight years. Granted, you could replace them with BSU and Fresno State, but I don't think that will cut the mustard with the BCS.

If I'm the Commissioner of the MWC, I am on my knees every single night praying that the Pac-10 will not expand.

Should the Pac-10 decide expansion is the right course of action, Utah and Brigham Young University will be the two schools that get the invitations—and at the same time, make the MWC a weaker and less attractive BCS AQ conference.