Pac-10 Conference Expansion: The Good, Bad, and Ugly of Utah's Move

Josh BennettContributor IJune 22, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY, UT - JUNE 17: PAC-10 Commissioner Larry Scott (L) shakes hands with the President of the University of Utah Michael Young after he signed the papers that admitted Utah into the PAC-10 June 17, 2010 in Salt Lake City, Utah. The University of Utah was invited to join the PAC-10 for the 2011-12 athletic year.   (Photo by George Frey/Getty Images)
George Frey/Getty Images

While Utah will reap the many benefits from their recent decision to jump to the Pac-10, it's not all golden in the new conference.

Don't get me wrong, it is absolute that the move is what's best for Utah, but it's not flawless.

Since there are only a few negatives that could come as result, let's get those at of the way first. 

The Holy War, the rivalry football game between Utah and Brigham Young University, has been around since 1922—the basketball teams have met even longer, 1909.

However, the longstanding rivalry could begin to fade away because of different conference affiliation. With little to win and much to lose, Utah would be smart to avoid a yearly game against their longtime rivals.

The rivalry has been around for years and I believe it will be missed, but it's for the best—no sense in playing a team for nearly nothing.

Although I am entirely confident they will be able to immediately compete in Pac-10 play, the Utes will face much tougher competition in their new conference—the perfect seasons under their belt will be much more difficult to come by.

Joining the Pac-10 will mean playing powerhouse teams, and while I do believe they can compete, it will take greater effort to make a great season. 

Now this can go either way, but increased travel distance will affect the road game attendance—for better or worse.

Sure, road trips to California and Phoenix are more desirable than those to Colorado Springs, Colorado and Laramie, Wyoming, but they are also more expensive. Utah's new conference affiliation will make it a longer drive or flight, and will be a heavier hit on the wallet's of fans.

However, fans may be more likely to travel to watch their team play against top-tier programs, rather than to Wyoming. If fans are willing to take the trip, road attendance will jump higher—like I said, it could go either way. 

The best thing that will come from the move is respect—something Utah has been yearning for a while now.

Due to Utah's recent success, they have become a more respected program, but are still considered a mid-major school that plays "nobody" in the eyes of many fans. With the opportunity to play in the "conference of champions," Utah could find itself the nation's elite programs.

Respect is close for the Utes and now all they have to do is earn it—easier with a Pac-10 affiliation.

Money, money, money. It's always about money. Utah's move to the Pac-10 will bring in a huge increase of revenue. Utah made $1.2 million in TV revenue last year, but could up that amount by over $10 million.

With a skyrocket in revenue, the Utes can look to stadium expansion. Currently, Rice-Eccles Stadium holds 45,017 people, but plans to expand the stadium could boost that number to anywhere between 60 and 70 thousand fans

Access to the Rose Bowl year in and year out will be nice for Utah, and an undefeated season spells out more than just a BCS bowl. If the Utes drop a game or two, or any amount for that matter, all it would take is winning the conference to play for the roses. 

Utah recruiting should see a bump with their new conference affiliation.

Coming off its best recruiting class in school history, the Utes are already finding their 2011 class to be full of talent. It will be much easier to keep the in-state prospects that have been lost to schools of BCS affiliation in the past.

Utah's recruiting competition with BYU should be easier as well, considering they will have the edge due to its conference affiliation alone. It will be hard for BYU recruiters to look a kid in the eye and get him to commit over Utah, when that same kid is being told by Utah recruiters of shots at the national title—the Utes could have top-dog status in college football, making it much easier to land studs out of high school.

There are many reasons why Utah's move to the Pac-10 is beneficial, and they will begin to feel those gains as soon as 2011 comes around.