Northwest coaches OK with possible split

June, 16, 2010
6/16/10
7:08
PM ET
The conventional wisdom is that Pac-10 schools from the Northwest need an annual trip to southern California for recruiting purposes. In the most likely model for the new Pac-10 -- a North-South division split -- that won't happen.

The reaction to that possibility from Northwest coaches?

Sum it like this: "neh."

"We've all got to be open for change because it's coming anyway," Washington State coach Paul Wulff said. "You've got to roll with it."

Oregon's Chip Kelly, who was busy watching film of New Mexico, was completely neutral on that matter.

"We'll just line up and play whoever they want us to play," he said. "It's not like we won't get enough exposure. Just tell me my schedule and let's go play."

Said Washington's Steve Sarkisian, "We'll get down there enough."

That seems to be the point. If the Pac-10 continues to play a nine-game conference schedule -- the most likely scenario -- teams will play five division games and four non-division games on a rotation as well as three nonconference games. That means fairly regular trips to USC or UCLA for North Division teams. If the conference opts to play eight conference games, which is what the other 12-team conferences do, then there will be three crossover games and four nonconference games, which athletic directors might not favor because it complicates scheduling (that was always one of the reason the round robin Pac-10 schedule was favored by ADs through the years).

Wulff pointed out that pairing the Bay Area schools -- California and Stanford -- with the Northwest teams puts plenty of footprints in California. What had initially concerned him was the notion of Colorado and Utah joining the Northwest schools in a division.

"So I think [the proposed model] is good," he said.

Understand: The North-South model isn't perfect for the Northwest schools. It will be a ding on their recruiting in southern California. Consider that South Division coach X can tell So-Cal prospect Y that if he signs with a NW school his family and friends won't get to see him play at least once every year. That matters.

There seem to be more reservations up at Oregon State. Coach Mike Riley met with his beat writers Wednesday morning, so consider this from The Oregonian:
On Tuesday, OSU athletic director Bob De Carolis expressed some misgivings at a proposed Pac-10 South/Pac-10 North split if Utah comes aboard that would have USC, UCLA, Ariz., ASU, Utah, and Colorado in the south and OSU, Cal, Stanford, Oregon, Washington and WSU in the north.

Riley didn’t reject the idea, but he made it clear he doesn’t want to lose games against the southern California or Arizona schools.

“I don’t know, there’s probably a bunch of different ways they could look at it,’’ he said.

“I’m not going to worry about it too much. Nobody’s really asking me. … I’m waiting to hear what division we’re going to be in, I guess.’’

In other words, as Wulff said, change is coming. The Northwest schools will have to roll with it, even if they aren't completely thrilled with how things pencil out.

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