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Pac-12 Conference: Why Expansion Is a Mistake

LOS ANGELES, CA - MARCH 12:  Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott addresses the crowd after the championship game of the 2011 Pacific Life Pac-10 Men's Basketball Tournament between the Arizona Wildcats and the Washington Huskies at Staples Center on March 12, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
Alex ShoemakerAnalyst IIApril 17, 2011

If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it. The Pacific-10 Conference has been in existence since 1978, when Arizona and Arizona State joined the conference. The expansion from 10 to 12 teams is a mistake and it will hurt the conference in the long run. The conference was and is perfect in so many ways, but soon those unique traits will be gone.

One of the Pac-10’s best and most unique variances to the other conferences is the ability to play every conference team in the regular season. In football, every team plays each conference foe during the regular season, but the expansion wouldn’t allow for 11 conference games.

And in basketball, each team played every opponent at home and on the road. And who knows how much baseball, softball and the other sports will be affected.

Expansion takes away the opportunity for equal play in multiple sports, something that will be greatly missed. But missed games aren’t the only loss with the expansion.

East coast schools often have their major rival in a different conference, example being Florida and Florida State. The Pac-10 has sets of regional rivalries from Arizona to Washington. The Pac-12 will welcome Utah and Colorado, two teams that have no rivalry whatsoever.

Teams will now have to travel hundreds and sometimes thousands of miles away. Rivalry week in college football won’t be the same with Pacific Conference teams no longer playing conference teams.  If the inclusion of Arizona and Arizona State brought controversy, is it any wonder that introducing two teams a thousand miles inland is an unpopular change.

But conference expansion was inevitable, and Larry Scott was not going to let the conference fall behind.

Many argue that Utah and Colorado will form a rivalry like so many of the Pac-10 teams have. And that expansion gives the conference increased significance and a conference championship game like the ACC, SEC and the newly renovated Big 10.  Those in favor of expansion say that the conference needs to evolve to stay with the other power conferences.

But I see otherwise.

I don’t disagree with conference expansion, just the teams that the conference is choosing. The argument that Utah and Colorado will become rivals is hypothetical and has no assurance.

I supported the proposed 16-team expansion, because it improved the quality of the league. But including Utah and Colorado is nothing but a desperate attempt by commissioner Larry Scott to expand the conference. In reality, adding Utah and Colorado will only water down the conference.

The move from 10 to 12 may look good in hindsight, but for now I’m not convinced. Gone is the set of regional rivals. And the seasonal format of all sports will have to completely change. Some argue that expansion strengthens the conference, but all it’s doing is adding two more bottom-feeder teams.

This expansion from 10 to 12 teams is a mistake, and it will hurt the conference in the long run because it failed to add to the conference. But, I hope I’m wrong.

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