Superconference speculation has been all the rage lately at Bleacher Report.
Most of the proposals, other than mine, have proposed what I call a, "4 by 16" model (four superconferences of 16 teams each).
The Big 10, SEC, and ACC would have little if no problem finding enough quality teams to fill a 16 team league.
The Pac 10? I'm not so sure. They have a lot fewer teams to choose from (if you assume Texas and Texas A&M are not coming and that's IMHO a fairly good assumption, the SEC is far more attractive to UT-A&M than the Pac-10).
In addition, supposedly the Pac-10 needs a unanimous vote to invite a school and they take huge pride in their academics, just like the Big 10 does. If you take Texas and Texas A&M out of the picture, how many schools left would get unanimous support from all 10 schools?
It's a pretty safe bet BYU would get at least one "no" vote if not more. I think Colorado and Utah should pass through easily but then you still need four more schools.
That's when the pickings become slim.
If you assume Missouri and Nebraska join the Big 10 and Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Oklahoma State to the SEC, that leaves only four AAU schools: Colorado, Kansas, Iowa State, and Rice.
The other "top tier" candidates according to USN&WR are Baylor, SMU, BYU, Tulsa, TCU, Utah, and Colorado State.
As you can see, the list is, IMHO, pretty biased towards smaller, private schools (the highest ranked public school is Berkeley at 21). Remember eight of the 10 schools in the Pac-10 are public schools.
This is a list of top public national universities according to USN&WR. Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Utah, and Colorado State are on the list.
Assuming UT/T A&M/Okl/OkState head for the SEC and the Big 12 folds, Colorado would have no choice but to accept a Pac-10 bid.
Utah would want to bring BYU with them but if you assume the Pac-10 refuses, Utah also has no choice but to come along.
Colorado and Utah are the two schools that I am pretty sure will get invited and both have to accept if the Big 12 folds (if the Big 12 stays, they could easily extend bids to both Utah and BYU, which could swing Utah towards the Big 12 over the Pac-10).
As for the remaining four, here is an educated guess of the four remaining schools (if you consider BYU is out and being outside the USN&WR top tier a dealbreaker)
It's a decent bet that the Pac-10 will want one if not more schools in the state of Texas even if UT and Texas A&M say no.
The academically viable Texas candidates are TCU, SMU, Rice, and Baylor (Tulsa if Oklahoma is close enough to warrant Texas coverage).
Of these, TCU is of course the best football program. I don't think any of the three will garner interest state wide, but TCU presides in the Dallas/Fort Worth area (compared to Houston for Rice and Waco for Baylor).
Another factor— TCU is a religious school. There are no religious affiliated schools in the Pac-10. I'm sure they will have an easier time accepting TCU than BYU, but could their religious affiliation scare off one or more schools?
Probably a bit far East for the Pac-10's liking, but they clearly meet the academic expectations and of course have a great basketball team which may help overcome its geographical obstacles. Plus, it neighbors Colorado.
If the Pac-10 can deal with the travel, the Jayhawks are a pretty good bet (with no other BCS options, Kansas will assuredly say yes).
Probably meets academic expectations although non AAU.
Obviously, they would be the travel partner to Colorado and would make the Buffaloes happy (as well as further strengthen the Pac-10 in the state of Colorado).
Then again, are their athletic accomplishments worthy?
Colorado State did make seven bowls since joining the MWC but only one since 2006 . Their last NCAA appearance in basketball was 2003.
Of course the athletics aren't exactly top notch (although they have made two bowls since 2006 ). But the Pac-10 won't find a better FCS candidate academically and they do have a pretty decent Houston market.
So my best guess at a Pac-16 would be the current 10 plus Colorado, Utah, TCU, Kansas, Colorado State, and Rice.
TCU and Rice and Colorado and Colorado State would of course be travel partners with Kansas and Utah being stuck with each other.
As much as teams like Kansas State, Texas Tech, Boise State, UNLV, Hawaii, San Diego State, and Houston look good, I think their academic limitations (as well as geographical and demo-graphical limitations) may be too much to overcome.
And I think BYU will have a hard time passing through. Iowa State is an AAU member, but I highly doubt the Pac-10 will go as far east as Iowa (I even think Kansas may be a stretch).
Now the ideal 16 team Pac-10 of course will involve Texas and Texas A&M.
Assuming the Big 12 folds, the only way the Pac-10 can top the SEC is if they offer Texas a better deal.
If the SEC offers bids to the Oklahoma schools as well as A&M, it's a done deal that they will all go to the SEC. But should the SEC say no to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, then the Pac-10 may have a chance but only if they take all four of them (I can see them loosening the academic requirements to take Tier 3 Oklahoma State if it will get them the Texas schools and Oklahoma).
Then add Colorado and Utah and the Pac-10 is all set. But I think the SEC is the favorite in landing Texas with all things being equal and the Pac-10 has to seek other options.
Should we have a 16 team Big 10, SEC, and ACC, the Pac-10 is going to have a hard time finding six perfect schools. After Colorado and Utah, it's going to be tough.