Pac-10 divisions? Don't expect big news next week

September, 29, 2010
9/29/10
6:23
PM ET
Bet you can't wait to find out how the divisions will break down in the Pac-12 in 2011!

Me too. Just don't expect big news to come out of the athletic directors meetings next week -- Oct. 6-7 -- in San Francisco.

"I don't expect any announcements or news coming out of the AD meeting," commissioner Larry Scott said.

The general consensus that I can gather from talking to folks in the know is that the athletic directors are going to make discussing revenue sharing the first priority before talking about divisions. There is significant support for adopting the SEC and Big Ten model of equal revenue sharing instead of the current model based on appearances, but that would require sacrifice from the southern California schools, who benefit from the appearance-based model.

Therefore, revenue sharing will be intertwined in the give-and-take when divisional models are discussed. Yes, there are many moving parts here.

A lot has been written of late about how things are going to go, even reports that major issues -- read: divisions -- have been resolved. Here's the reality: "I don't know," said more than one Pac-10 athletic director.

Is the North-South split a done deal (four California schools and two Arizona schools in the South; Utah and Colorado joining the Northwest schools in the North)?

No. In fact, one AD offered that it was "a nonstarter."

The big question to ask about North-South: Is it an equitable plan that will be best for the Pac-12 over the long term? The six programs in the cold-weather North division probably wouldn't think so, even if the carrot used to arrive at that resolution is equal revenue sharing.

Then there are a variety of zipper plans, which split up traditional geographical rivals.

And there also is a proposal that would divide the Pac-12 not only into divisions but also pods, with the Northwest schools, California schools and post-Pac-8 schools all forming four-team pods. It's an idea that originated on the Internet site "Pac12cooler" and worked its way to the office of an athletic director, who threw it on the table at a recent meeting (it was first described in a mainstream newspaper by the Eugene Register-Guard).

But the version of the "pods" proposal the conference is looking at would include teams not playing all their divisional foes, which is against NCAA rules for football divisions, which dictate that a team must play all divisional opponents. An AD noted that the conference simply could go to the NCAA and ask for a waver or a rule change.

Suffice it to say, there will be a lot to discuss. The most likely endgame next week? That Scott and ADs will put together a couple of scenarios that will be presented to the presidents and chancellors on Oct. 21.

And they will hash out the final, messy bits, reach a consensus and only then will we have a shiny new Pac-12 heading into 2011.
The Pac-10 blog -- to its chagrin -- mostly ignored emails about the Pac12cooler proposal because it's against NCAA rules for football divisions, which dictate that a team must play all divisional opponents. But an AD noted that the conference simply could go to the NCAA and ask for a waver or a rule change.

Ted Miller | email

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