Conference Expansion: The New Pac 16 a Conference Of Cupcakes?

Kevin McGradySenior Writer IJune 12, 2010

PASADENA, CA - JANUARY 07:  A fan of the Texas Longhorns cheers prior to the Citi BCS National Championship game between the Longhorns and the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Rose Bowl on January 7, 2010 in Pasadena, California.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

All is not cozy with the Texas universities that are reportedly moving to the Pac 10. In an interview Friday , Gene Stallings left little doubt that Texas A&M is not pleased with being railroaded into this choice. He also confirmed that Texas is headed to the Pac 10 although it is not official yet.  

When officials at Oklahoma State were interviewed, they simply said they would follow Texas as they seem to have all the cards. This brings back memories of how Nebraska was treated when the Big 12 was established. That turned out to be a decade long marriage where the parties could not stand each other.

Texas Tech has been hard to get any reaction from at this point. Oklahoma has explored other options but is expected to follow Texas to the Pac 10 as well. From the outside looking in, this appears to be a marriage doomed to fail from day one.

It would seem the deal would consist of the Pac 10 Sacrificing the Arizona universities and forming another Texas dominated division similar to the Big 12 South. It would include Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Texas A&M, Colorado and Oklahoma State, Arizona, and Arizona State.

This would not be a lot different than the Big 12 South was. In fact the entire situation is not a lot different than the Big 12 was. Texas and Oklahoma can play each other for the division and then meet for a championship game against the winner of the remainder of the old Pac 10 universities.

Of course there is only one real contender out there, and they are banned from bowls for two years and will feel the effects of sanctions for the better part of the next decade. Therefore one can assume that Texas or Oklahoma could waltz into the BCS having played one difficult game on the year.

This forms a 16-team league that has a lower quality of football than the Mountain West Conference. In fact the Mountain West Conference has a better winning percentage against the same competition over the last year. Would this megalopolis of a conference deserve an automatic BCS birth?

The strength of schedule in this conference is going to be pathetic. Texas cruised to the BCS Championship game in 2009 with one of the weakest schedules in modern history. The justification was their required game against Nebraska in the Big 12 Championship that justified their claim.

Didn’t Nebraska just decimate and embarrass one of Texas's new opponents in a 2010 bowl game?  In fact the Mountain West just sacrificed many of the others that Nebraska missed.

Of course none of this will happen until NCAA sanctions have crippled Southern California the only chance of competition from the Pacific teams. This could be a guaranteed super highway straight to the BCS Championship for Texas and Oklahoma as far as the eye can see.

With 2009 being a down year for Southern California in the old Pac 10, Oregon was embarrassed by a one dimensional Ohio State team that had been dispatched by Southern California earlier in the season.

With Texas and Oklahoma weakening their conference schedule considerably their out of conference schedule should be looked at by pollsters very closely. Texas did not play even one remotely challenging non conference game in 2009 . In fact their schedule wasn’t much if any more difficult than Boise State's .

Oklahoma has been playing some quality out of conference opponents. This will have to continue if they want any respect from pollsters. There will be no way to gauge if Texas and Oklahoma are actually good or if their competition is just that bad.

There is little doubt that this move strengthens the old Pac 10 at a time when the only real competitor in the conference is to be decimated by NCAA sanctions. Over the years the universities in the Pac 10 have become less and less competitive with competition outside the conference.

Texas and Oklahoma’s new conference partners are less than stellar against average competition. Arizona is 2-4 against the Mountain West Conference over the last five years. Arizona State is 0-3 to the SEC during that same period.

The overall quality of the teams simply isn’t what it was in the days when UCLA, USC and Washington were all good teams. The Pac 10 is competitive within the conference, they are all equally mediocre. One only need look at the recent bowl season to establish that fact.

The Pac 10 Champion Oregon looked offensive against an Ohio State team that couldn’t score on Purdue. The new Pac 10 looks to be 14 mediocre-to-bad teams and two competitors for the foreseeable future.

What does the ACC, SEC and Big 10 need to do to counter this move? Laugh out loud!  

This is how the new Pac 16 compares to the competition. With the addition of Nebraska the Big 10 now has three premium teams and three more that could be in the future. The ACC already has two premium teams and some more knocking on the door. The SEC has five premium teams and two more that seem to be knocking at the door.

In fact, with their 16 teams, they are on par in football with the Big East. I would go as far as to say the combined Big East top to bottom had a higher winning percentage in 2009 than did the combined teams of the new Pac 10. There is little doubt that their bowl record was better.

Now there is word that they will petition for two automatic BCS bids. Does this mean we are to start rewarding the creation of cupcake schedules and depleted conference quality?

Oregon won the Pac 10 with an offense and defense ranked in the mid 30s. They got spanked in their bowl like a team ranked 30 or lower.

Texas and Oklahoma are decent teams. Texas was likely the fourth or fifth best team in the nation. They certainly were not as good as Alabama, Ohio State and Florida. A good argument could be made for Boise State as well.

Why would the BCS give a conference an extra automatic bid due to them watering down their schedule? I say let them earn the at large bid on merit or do without.