Who's already a winner in new Pac-12?

October, 21, 2010
10/21/10
4:41
PM ET
The conventional wisdom is the old Pac-8 made sacrifices to create the new Pac-12.

Arizona and Arizona State -- the teams that made the expanded Pac-10 in 1978 -- will join the conference's newest members, Colorado and Utah, in the South Division with USC and UCLA. That means when the coaches of the four junior members hit the recruiting hotbed of Southern California they can tell mommies and daddies they will get to see their sons play near home every year.

Original Pac-8 members Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State will not.

And, yes, that is a significant issue.

[+] EnlargeLarry Scott
AP Photo/Ed Andrieski The pressure is on Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott to secure a TV deal that keeps equal revenue sharing, well, equal.
Further, the four newest teams will benefit from the revenue sacrifice of the L.A. schools, which agreed to equal revenue sharing when the new TV contracts are signed for the 2012-13 academic year, instead of the former appearance-based model. However, USC and UCLA will get a $2 million payout in any year total revenues are less than $170 million, so commissioner Larry Scott needs a new TV contract that beats that number or he'll look bad because then he'll end up with an "Animal Farm" version of equal revenue sharing -- "All Pac-12 members are equal, but some Pac-12 members are more equal than others."

So the biggest winners are Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado. And Washington State benefits the most of the northwestern schools from equal revenue sharing.

The biggest losers? Maybe Washington and Oregon. The Huskies are the old-school northwestern power with the biggest stadium, while the Ducks are the new-school power with the second-biggest stadium in the Northwest. Both recruit hard in Southern California. Over the long haul, you'd think they wouldn't gain as much as Oregon State and Washington State, though the Beavers have been doing well in terms of football revenue of late.

Ah, but the conventional wisdom isn't always correct. And unintended consequences often produce more powerful ramifications.

For one, there might be a benefit to not playing USC and UCLA every year, just as it was a benefit before the nine-game, round-robin conference schedule was adopted to miss USC during the early Pete Carroll era.

Do some shuffling in your head. What happens if Jim Harbaugh leaves Stanford? And Rick Neuheisel leads the Bruins back to national relevance? And Utah remains good? A deeper South Division could benefit North Division powers.

How? At present, the conference championship game is going to be played in the home stadium of the No. 1 seed in December. A conference championship game in the Northwest in December -- due to the elements -- is a significant home-field advantage.

And keep in mind: The North teams will still get a Southern California trip every other year. It's possible a feared recruiting advantage won't actually be that significant: If a kid was willing to even entertain the idea of leaving home to go to Oregon State or Washington State in the first place, why would losing a couple of games near his home town drive his ultimate decision?

But here's the biggest reason you shouldn't get too lathered up about how the divisions worked out: It is what it is. It's done.

A bunch of smart people with their own agendas -- Scott, 12 athletic directors and 12 school presidents -- were able to come to accord over this plan. As individuals, you'd think the AD and president at your school care just as much as you do about how things worked out. The presidents claim to have reached a unanimous agreement.

While there will be plenty of grousing about the details going forward, it won't change anything. And, of course, how often is any change greeted with a warm embrace from everyone?

Here's a guess you'll still get just as juiced every Saturday for the games.

Oh, but if Scott doesn't get the TV deal everyone hoped for, then the foundation for widespread grousing will be substantial. This massive change, after all, was driven entirely by money.

So, Commish, now it's time to show everyone the money.

Ted Miller | email

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