The Pac-10 expansion to the Pac-12 so far is going great. Though the season is really just underway, the math that made the expansion logic work is paying off.
The Pac-10 by its nature had four teams go to bowls in the 2010-2011 season. By adding two more teams, the potential for revenue automatically increases.
Why, you ask? It's simple math.
If you add two teams, you add two more potential teams to the pool of six-game winners that can go to a bowl. If you look at the SEC and Big Ten, you see they have the ability to go deep in the bowl scenarios.
The Pac-10 was lagging behind in the all-important year-end cash game, as well as Top 25 rankings. By adding Utah and Colorado, it adds not only the ability to have more teams from the Pac-12 go to bowl games, but the prestige of Pac-12 teams playing teams from the Big Ten and SEC.
So far, the Pac-12 is right on schedule to have at least seven bowl-eligible teams, and with a little luck they might get to eight. The math is on their side.
There are six bowls aligned with the Pac-12, plus a BCS bowl. That makes the magic number seven. But there are also at-large bids available for bowls which take the "best team available" with the "best record."
Or in other words, teams that travel well by bringing in their fans.
Utah and Colorado provide the potential not only to pad the win column for Pac-12 teams, but also provide the extra numbers to get to the magic seven bowls.
So far, the plan is working. Utah and Colorado have lost games to perennial power houses who traditionally go to bowl games, thus helping the powers that be get back to the bowl games and make money for the league.
What was a Big Five and Little Five in the Pac-10 has now become the Big Six and Little Six.
More specifically, the Big Eight and Little Four with Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon State in the basement. UCLA is hovering, but Utah has two league losses, while UCLA has only one.
Though the season is still not to the halfway mark, it seems the bottom four have their work cut out for them to get out of the cellar and into the top seven or eight and get a winning season.
The prospect of Oregon State getting to a 6-6 record is now virtually impossible. The good teams of the Pac-12 are coming their way soon.
Arizona has played three of the top teams in the Pac-12 and lost, along with playing three nationally ranked teams. But they would have to now go 5-2 with Arizona State left on the schedule. Possible but not probable.
Colorado has only beaten Colorado State, so it's not likely they will make a turnaround as their remaining schedule puts them against the top five schools in the Pac-12 and three of the five are ranked. Not happening any time soon.
Utah, after facing Arizona State and Pittsburgh, will probably be 2-4 with six games remaining. Of those six games, they have the softest schedule of the cellar dwellers. They could go 4-2 and become bowl eligible.
However, they are facing Arizona and UCLA, who will be very hungry teams. Giving them Oregon State and Colorado, they could be in a split between those four games. The key games, then, for Utah will be California and Washington State. Reality says those will be split, and Utah will fall short of climbing into the bowl picture.
But the good news is, the math is on the Pac-12's side. Eight teams will be bowl eligible and head to bowls that all pay out over a million dollars, the exception being the New Mexico Bowl.
The Pac-12 made the right decision, not only regarding bowls, but the revenue that will come with them.
For the detractors, let me say this—bowls are only one facet of the decision to expand to 12 teams. This article is addressing only the bowl picture and benefits.
What do you think? Who in the Pac-12 do you see going to the bowls this year? For my money, it is the Big Seven of Oregon, Stanford, Washington, Arizona State, California, UCLA and surprisingly, Washington State.
USC would have made a bowl had they not been on probation.