College Football Super Conference: 5 Teams Pac-12 Could Poach
College Football in 2011 represents a rapidly changing game, and in a few years, the Pac-12 could become the Pac-16.
Does anyone else remember the good old days when there were only 10 teams in the Pac-10—all of them on the West Coast—and we didn’t have to deal with talks of expansion and traveling to teams all the way across the country? Oh, wait, that was only last year.
With the recent addition of Colorado and Utah, the Pac-12 has been growing as a conference. As rumors have been swirling about adding new teams to the conference, the reader and college football fan is left to wonder the validity of such claims. It certainly seems, however, like these claims are merited.
A brief history of the Pac-12 is indeed one of expansion. The roots begin in the Pacific Coast Conference (Berkeley, Washington, Oregon, Oregon State) in 1916. While the PCC inevitably disbanded to form the Athletic Association of Western Universities (featuring Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC and Washington) in 1959, with the addition of Washington State the conference continued to look for expansion.
In 1964, Oregon and Oregon State both joined the conference that was commonly referred to as the Big Six. Having already had a Big Eight in college sports, they switched gears and called themselves the Pac-Eight. In 1978, the conference added Arizona and Arizona State.
From that point on, however, it was starting to seem like the Pac-10 was a bit permanent, as those 10 schools had maintained their membership for the longest in college football division one history sans the Ivy League.
This lasted until last year, when the Pac-10 sent invitations to the University of Colorado and the University of Utah.
With the recent success of the SEC in football, fans are left to wonder if their reign of dominance will continue until someone puts a stop to it. One solution than many think could work would be to expand the Pac-12 into a super conference.
If this ends up happening—perhaps becoming the Pac-16—there would be a College Football super conference as strong as the SEC that could perpetually give them a run for their money.
For a fan of football, watching these distinctly different cultural centers clash multiple times every year should make you giddy. Included are powerhouses from across the country, and it would be phenomenal to watch these teams play the likes of Oregon and Stanford.
That being said, with so much competition in the league, it would be difficult to make a bid at a bowl and the added travel becomes a bit of a nuisance for all of these teams that share very little in common geographically and culturally.
Here is a list of teams that could be involved in this merger.
Adding any Texas team is good news fiscally, and here’s why. As ESPN.com reports, for a conference that already owns major national television markets (No 2. in Los Angeles, No. 6 in San Francisco, No. 12 in Phoenix, No. 13 in Seattle and No. 16 in Denver), they could try to claim Texas by adding No. 5 in Dallas and No. 10 in Houston.
With Texas teams in the Pac-16 super conference, they would also claim the rights to half of the nation’s biggest television markets. In an age of commercialism, this is always going to be appealing.
As the ESPN article says, this would make them fiscally available to start their own television network, and with their broadcast partners, could distribute around $20 million per member.
Compared to the SEC, which currently distributes $17 million per member, this would be an incredible advantage and boost over the $8 million to $10 million that each Pac-12 team is currently receiving.
Texas Tech itself may not have much of a national market, but by sweeping a monopoly over the Texas schools, the super conference would have a very compelling rivalry to take note of season after season.
I’ve chosen to include Texas Tech not because of juiciness of the rumor (Baylor and Nebraska are much more interesting storylines) but due to likeliness.
If the super conference becomes a reality, expect the Red Raiders (last season 8-5, 3-5 in Big Ten Play) to be included.
Baylor finally looks to be an interesting team this season, as junior quarterback Robert Griffin began his Heisman campaign last weekend, throwing for 359 yards and five touchdowns in the season debut.
With speculation of their conference in the Big Twelve breaking up, however, Texas A&M has been accepted to join the SEC as the 13th school in the conference for next season.
With so many schools looking to leave the Big Twelve (Nebraska, Colorado and Texas A&M have all left the conference in the past year), there’s a big question in regards to what will happen to the rest of the Big Twelve teams if the Texas A&M move comes through.
Rumors are circulating about Texas, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State all moving to the Pac-12, but that leaves schools like Baylor without a home.
Baylor, currently ranked at number twenty in the nation, could become an independent team. It seems as if Baylor would like the Big Twelve to stay in tact, as today’s news has announced that Baylor has blocked Texas A&M to moving to the SEC because they like their situation and would prefer to keep the Texas teams together.
That being said, with Missouri potentially moving to the SEC as the 14th team in the conference, Baylor would not benefit from losing their division and state rivals as a standalone team.
If Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, Texas and Oklahoma all move to the Pac-16, the presumably logical move would be for Baylor to follow suit and remain competitive with their old division rivals.
Baylor may have recently issued a statement urging these teams not to move for greener prairies, citing quotes such as, “Will Texans stand by and watch hundred-year-old rivalries be cast caside as the state’s largest universities align themselves with other states across the country?”
For a team looking for fiscal support and legitimate BCS title contention, what’s stopping Baylor from doing the same?
One word to describe this entire Pac-16 expansion fiasco would be “reactionary.”
There’s no dire need for expansion in the “Conference of Champions’, and while the Big Twelve may be falling apart in front of all our eyes, the Pac-12 is currently thriving, having sent a football team to a National Championship last season.
Some wonder if we’ll even be able to recognize a conference on the West Coast that includes the likes of Texas and Oklahoma.
Oklahoma State, however, is a school that would be joining with these marque universities.
The Cowboys are currently ranked number nine in the country, and are a thriving football program.
Last year, Oklahoma State (11-2) played well in the division (6-2) and lost only to Oklahoma and Nebraska. They went on to defeat Arizona in the Alamo Bowl, and beat rivals Texas, Texas A&M and Baylor.
With Nebraska recently moving to the Big Ten, spotlights fall on programs like Oklahoma State.
It certainly seems as if they will also be one of the beneficiaries of the recent mergers, and the Pac-12 would gain a very impressive football team if this move does end up happening.
While Oklahoma State could be perceived as a bit of an academic outlier, the conference does already contain schools on a similar level and it would not kill an academic reputation.
From a football standpoint, this type of a move certainly helps the conference bit for a national championship contention year after year.
Perhaps the most complicated of the moves would be the University of Texas at Austin to the Pac-12.
From a marketability standpoint, Texas is the most appealing team to own in your conference. They have the biggest viewership, and churn a notable profit on a yearly basis. They draw attention, and even when their play is subpar (yeah, I said it,) they’re a ridiculously interesting football team.
Texas, regardless of their play, is definitively one of the elite programs and college football, and their rivalry with Oklahoma is arguably the biggest in college sports.
Oklahoma could make a push to the SEC, but it would have a lot more trouble staying competitive having to play LSU, Alabama, Florida and Auburn.
A smarter move would be to take Texas into the Pac-12, where Texas could very well be competitive and continue their rivalries.
The Pac-12 television deal is set to expire soon, and bringing in a school with the fan base of Texas would do wonders for the economic state of the conference.
Culturally and academically, I think that the University of Texas is a surprisingly good fit for the Pac-12.
With a conference that contains the likes of UCLA, Berkeley, Stanford and USC, Texas would have a bit to live up to but already find themselves well on their way.
Austin, relatively speaking, is a progressive city, a good college town and fits the mold that the Pac-12 president has made for what schools fit for this conference.
Here, my friends, is where things get most interesting.
Oklahoma, currently ranked No. 1 overall in all of college football, is leading the charge for a move.
A potential Sooners move changes the entire culture of college football, and if this team were to play in the Pac-16, the division would contain some of the single most elite schools in the nation.
To have to play Oregon, Stanford, Oklahoma, USC, Texas and Oklahoma State every year, the winner of the conference would absolutely earn the right to make the BCS National Championship and positively earn the respect of every team in college football.
The reasons are already in place, and with Texas A&M likely moving to the SEC, the Big 12 is absolutely disbanding.
This, without question, is a compelling move that would shake up the game entirely.
By moving to the Pac-16, they could begin a super conference that not only challenges the SEC every year but also builds new rivalries (with Oregon, USC and whoever else emerges). By bringing Oklahoma State and Texas with them, they can keep the Red River rivalry in tact as well.
In this Bleacher Report article, the author outlines a system in which there are four divisions.
The Pacific Northwest schools (Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State), the California group (Stanford, USC, Cal, UCLA) the Mountain group (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) and the Red River group (Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma).
For scheduling purposes, they would play every team from their subgroup as well as two games from each other subgroup.
I find that I really like this idea, and while untested, this could prove to be the new wave of how college football will operate.
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