The Pac-10's dreams of a 16-school, SEC-rivaling super-conference evaporated Monday when University of Texas President Bill Powers told conference commissioner Larry Scott his school planned to remain part of the Big 12.
Now, the "Conference of Champions," marred by sanctions to its flagship football program, USC, can only hope to expand its membership by two with Colorado already on board and a Utah possibly waiting in the wings.
The Colorado Buffaloes, who went a Big 12 worst 3-9 last year, will likely not do much to enhance the Pac-10's football prestige.
Will Utah be the ice pack the Pac-10 needs to cool massive burns left by USC sanctions and a Longhorns decision to remain home?
A potential addition in Utah is no consolation to a conference that hoped to swipe one of college football's richest and most talented brands in Texas.
Nevertheless, the Pac-10 should push to add the Utes, whose 86-30 record since 2000 includes Fiesta Bowl and Sugar bowl championship titles.
The Utes are no Longhorns, but they are more than just filler in a story of conference realignment that has a plot more intricate than that of ABC's Lost.
Utah is a perfect fit for the Pac-10, and here's why:
- Utah's Hungry —after breaking into the BCS in 2005 and 2009, the Utes are ready for the next best thing: a shot at the BCS Championship. The Pac-10 has played second or third fiddle to the SEC in football prestige for years. With Utah, the conference can look forward to a heightened level of athletic talent it won't find in its addition of Colorado.
- Utah's Multi-talented —as much as your chest-painted, "D-FENSE!"-shouting friend would have you believe otherwise, it's not all about football, folks. There are lots of sports out there, and Utah is good at many of them. The Utes' basketball team has been to the NCAA tournament 27 times, and the women's gymnastics team, the Utah Red Rocks, has won 10 national championships.
- Utah's Smart —Utah has historically been ranked very highly in academics. Utah can only improve the academic makeup of a conference that is already home to Stanford and USC.
Although the sting of USC sanctions and a failed super-conference plan may headline Pac-10 blogs and discussions for some time, the additions of Colorado and Utah will eventually sink in, and an expanded Pac-10 will begin to improve.
There are going to be many losers in the story of conference realignment (just ask anyone from a Big 12 school), but the Pac-10 will not be one of them.
The Pac-10 should forget about Texas (after all, they never had Texas to begin with; there is no real loss) and focus on getting the appealing and appropriate Utes.