Today was the most telling day of all amongst conference football expansion talk. Nebraska to the Big Ten and Boise State to the Mountain West are the two latest dominoes to fall and four more Big 12 schools are expected to follow as early as Tuesday. Will Utah make a move as well? I definitely believe so.
Why the Pac-10 Will Expand More
There is no way the Pac-10 is done expanding after only adding Colorado, so it's more than safe to say they have plans to further expansion.
The Pac-10 wants to get to at least 12 teams—giving them a conference championship game. With an expiring TV contract, the Pac-10 is looking to do everything they can to bring in the biggest moneymaking deal possible.
Expansion to 12 teams would spell success for the Pac-10, but with all the ideas of super-conferences forming the Pac-10 is likely to get a head start on other conferences and grow to 16 teams.
Who the Pac-10 Will Take
At the moment, Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech are believed to all make the jump to the Pac-10 by Tuesday. Texas A&M was originally believed to be joined at the hip with Texas, but now it seems there will be separation as Texas A&M seems more interested in the SEC than the Pac-10—sorry Big 12, you're gone.
If the talk of Texas A&M's interest in the SEC holds true along with the SEC having interest in the school, expect Texas A&M to bail on its dancing partner, Texas.
The Pac-10 likes the idea of pairing off teams as rivals, and Utah could be the answer for Colorado. Utah is geographically fit to play in the Pac-10 and naturally pairs with Colorado to develop a rivalry.
Texas and Texas Tech pair as rivals, as well as Oklahoma and Oklahoma State—of course every team can have more than one rival, I wouldn't expect the Red River Rivalry to dry up anytime soon.
Utah is also a perfect fit because it would round out a potential division for the new super-conference.
Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas, and Texas Tech would be a division that makes complete sense. The division would be geographically logical and pair up the rivalries—I know Utah fans would be excited to see Texas and Oklahoma play at Rice-Eccles Stadium.
When It Will Go Down
The Pac-10 began expansion Thursday by announcing Colorado as its newest member. Friday the Pac-10 watched the MWC add Boise State and the Big Ten add Nebraska. The Pac-10 watched speculation on Texas A&M's interest in the SEC, and noticed the interest from the SEC to add them.
The news came that Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, and Oklahoma State would announce as early as Tuesday their plans to join the Pac-10.
But when does the Pac-10 invite Utah? I believe they will announce the Utes as the newest member in the next 72 hours.
If I had to pinpoint a day, I would say Monday—the day before the Pac-10 announces four Big 12 schools as new members, their final move on expansion.
Friday's news is information that becomes forgotten, Monday's news sets up the rest of the week's talk—it's how the media works for the most part. Expect at the very least, Utah to join Monday, then the big splash will follow.
Why Utah to the Pac-10 Seems a "Done Deal"
During the most exciting week of conference expansion, Utah athletic director, Chris Hill found himself on vacation—perhaps to get away and relax.
Hill came back from vacation and supposedly is aware of a Pac-10 invite for Utah. This would make sense because there is no reason why Hill should take backseat to the thought of being left out of conference expansion—especially when a few months ago everything seemed absolute.
I find it very telling that there is discussion and rumors of the Pac-10 inviting only four more Big 12 schools, bringing them to 15 schools—if elementary school taught me anything, 15 is an uneven number. They will look to add one more school, and Utah is the best option left.
Utah is competitive in the aspects of athletics, academics, research, and brings a decent TV market.
Watching Boise State's press conference Friday, I noticed a little "big whoop" attitude—thanks to my buddy Jake, who asked me to pay attention to the animosity of Robert Kustra, BSU President. It seemed they were excited to join the MWC, but didn't act like it was going to be the best thing in the world.
While discussing scheduling, Boise State athletic director, Gene Bleymaier talked about the schools they played 30 years ago and compared them to the schools they will play starting in 2011.
"BYU, TCU, (pause) Utah, and Air Force," Bleymaier said. The pause in the statement wasn't very long, but it was long enough that you could tell Utah's departure was forthcoming. A team like Utah should have been spit out much quicker, and not behind BYU and TCU—probably not even in the same sentence as Air Force.
Also, the phone interview with MWC commissioner, Craig Thompson, told a lot if you listened to his voice. It seemed Thompson was glad to have Boise join, but it seemed like he didn't care too much. If you ask me, Boise is a replacement for Utah and the MWC will look other places to expand—making Boise like Colorado and Nebraska, just the beginning of the shift.