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Conference expansion seems inevitable

LOS ANGELES -- Conversation in recent weeks has been dominated by the thought of the recently formed Pac-12 expanding into a Pac-14 or Pac-16. WeAreSC's panel of writers share their thoughts on what that would mean to college football in this week's roundtable.

Garry Paskwietz: I have a hard time believing this train is going to return to the station, so let's assume that we're headed for a grouping of four major conferences. If that's the case, then I feel confident in the ability of [Pac-12 Commissioner] Larry Scott to structure a proposal that makes sense for the Pac-12 to become the Pac-16 in the right way. To me, that means it must include Oklahoma and Texas. I suppose Oklahoma State and Texas Tech would make good options to finish out the group. Texas A&M certainly would have been preferred, but the Aggies seem to have their hearts set on the SEC. I think Oklahoma will sprint to the Pac-12 as soon as they can, while Texas will flirt with the idea of independence. But in the end the financial plan that Scott will present will be too good to turn down.

Steve Bisheff: It is coming now. We all know it. Four big superconferences, with the Pac-14 or 16, or whatever it turns out to be. Oklahoma will be in there, probably Oklahoma State as well, and maybe even Texas. Excuse me if I don't get overly excited by expansion-itis. Call me old school, but I preferred it back when conferences were split up by regions, the way God, or maybe the NCAA, intended. I used to love the old Southwest Conference, with its Texas-Arkansas shootouts and the annual Texas-Oklahoma non-conference showdown. Or the famous Nebraska-Oklahoma Big 8 heavyweight matches. There was a certain regional flavor to those games -- something we certainly won't get with Oklahoma-Washington State, or Texas-Oregon State. It just won't be the same, will it?

Then there is the competitive side to consider. If you're a USC fan, do you really want to have to get by an Oklahoma, a Texas or an Oklahoma State, in addition to Oregon and Stanford, just to have a shot at a BCS title game? You think things are tough now. Just wait. The sad part is, it doesn't matter what we think. It is bound to happen, because it isn't about tradition or regional flavor or history. It is about money and huge TV contracts. Amid all the arguments about why today's college athletes shouldn't be paid a small pittance -- so they maybe can afford to buy a pizza or take a date to a movie -- the presidents and commissioners of these conferences can't wait to sell themselves to the highest expansion bidders. Can you spell hypocrisy, boys and girls?

Greg Katz: You never got the impression from Scott that Pac-10 expansion was done when the conference moved to 12 teams. It seems to me that Texas was the only thing preventing a Big 12 domino theory into the Pac-16 in the first place. Now that we see Texas A&M bolting for the SEC, the Big 12 looks like a house of cards waiting to collapse. Who wants to be part of that? I think there will be expansion to at least 14 teams, and I think that means Oklahoma and Oklahoma State, for starters. The problem is the realignment of the divisions. In a 14-team conference, the Eastern Division would have to take two teams that are definitely West Coast, "Western Division" teams to balance it (splitting USC and UCLA?) at seven teams each. However, if the Pac-12 expands to 16 teams, Eastern and Western Divisions are no problem. There is no problem unless Utah and Colorado squawk at being in the logical Eastern Division, thinking they'll lose a SoCal recruiting advantage. If the Pac-12 expands to 16 teams, I see a Western Division consisting of the old Pac-8, and the Eastern Division consisting of Arizona State, Arizona, Utah, Colorado and the ex-Big 12 newcomers. Confused? Just know expansion is coming in some shape or form, and I believe it will include Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and maybe Texas Tech.

Kyle Williams: The possibility of the Pac-12 expansion is not a question of is it going to happen, but when is it going to happen. The Big 12 is a sinking ship, and everyone's trying to save themselves. This is how I see the whole thing playing out. First of all, Texas will not be joining the SEC, Pac-12 or Big 10. Texas will be the new Notre Dame. Texas doesn't need to join a conference for money or exposure. They have enough money, they're the No. 1 school in the biggest state, and they're a little arrogant. Having lived in Texas, having friends who went to UT and having once played against them, this is how I've come to this conclusion. Secondly, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St. and Texas Tech, welcome to the Pac-12. Not sure who the fourth will be at this time, but this is how the layout will be: Pac-West Division: USC, UCLA, Stanford, Cal, Oregon St., Oregon, Washington, Washington St. Pac-Southwest Division: Arizona St. Arizona, Colorado, Utah, Oklahoma, Oklahoma St., Texas Tech, TBD.