¡Adiós, Paco Once!
With the addition of Utah the Pac-11 became the Pac-12. Increased football riches will start pouring in with the Your-Corporate-Sponsor-Here Pac-12 Championship Game. All that’s left to do is split into two divisions.
Except that might be more difficult than convincing Texas to join your league.
The battle lines are being drawn and, believe you me, this will be a battle. Access to the fertile Los Angeles recruiting fields is a treasure nobody wants to give up.
The Arizona schools need to fight to keep them unhappy.
This is not an argument you want to lose. Arizona and Arizona State were going to be shipped to the New Big 12 South if Texas came on board. It’s somebody else’s turn to play good soldier.
Dig your heels in. Raise a ruckus. Take shots at people through the media. Whatever it takes to make sure you end up on the bus with the cool kids.
The easy answer is the zipper model where each division gets one of the L.A. schools. But this isn’t the time for easy. One team from Los Angeles would be a nice consolation prize but the UA and ASU need to pull a Larry Scott and shoot for the biggest fish in the sea.
Here are the best and worst possible divisional alignments for Arizona. Keep in mind this only applies to football. Basketball will function as a unified 12-team league.
Arizona’s ideal football division is…
The Calizona Division: USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, UA, ASU
This is the recruiting goldmine as Northern California is also important to the UA (see Tuitama, Willie). This also happens to be the true geographical split if you go North/South since Salt Lake City and Boulder are both north of the San Francisco Bay.
(In case you’re curious, a geographic Eastern Division would be Colorado, Arizona, Utah, ASU, WSU and USC.)
The next best alignment from Arizona’s perspective would be…
The Mostly South Division: USC, UCLA, Utah, Colorado, UA, ASU
This is the division the Colorado A.D. thinks he’s getting. I don’t think the new guys should get this kind of break but it sure would benefit the schools in the Grand Canyon State.
If the league drops its zipper there are two ways to look at it. The first is to root for the division that gives you the most football prestige, which would be USC, Oregon, Washington, Cal and Utah.
The other option is to hope for the easiest zipper division possible. That would be USC (sanctions minus Pete Carroll equals good news for everyone else), Stanford (Jim Harbaugh is eventually going somewhere else), Oregon State (good but not Nike U good), Colorado (“It’s Division I football!”) and Washington State (duh).
If you’re from Tucson or Tempe the worst possible division would be WSU, OSU, CU, UU, UA and ASU. If that somehow comes to pass whoever was representing the Arizona schools needs to have his negotiating arm chopped off.
My prediction is we will see one L.A. school in each division. If you split one rivalry you have to split them all so I fully expect a form of the zipper. My guess is the Cal/UCLA and Oregon/Washington secondary rivalries will be preserved so I’m going to go with final football divisions that look like this:
USC, Stanford, OSU, WSU, Utah, Arizona
UCLA, Cal, Oregon, Washington, Colorado, ASU
But the Cats and Devils better not accept anything less than both L.A. schools without a big fight.
The other issue where the Arizona schools (and everyone else outside L.A.) need to dig in is the location of the conference championship game. This can’t be the basketball tournament part two where it’s held in Southern California every year.
Plan it far enough in advance so you can rotate it among NFL stadiums in Phoenix, San Francisco, Seattle and Denver. If you want to use the Rose Bowl as L.A.’s NFL stadium so
be it, but Autzen in Oregon is off the table.
If the hoops tournament at Staples Center is any indication decisions like this are only going to be made once so you have to fight for an advantage (or a lack of a disadvantage) right now.
The battle for L.A. is on.