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Pac-10 Expansion
Rich Linde, February 14, 2010

I'm in favor of expanding the Pac-10 to twelve teams for one simple reason: hopefully, the league will drop its silly round-robin scheduling format and go with an eight-game conference schedule. This will leave room for a team to schedule four patsies -- or at least three -- as they do in the powerful South Eastern Conference, for example.

For instance, the 2009-10 BCS champion, Alabama, played home games against FIU, North Texas and Chattanooga, running up a combined score of 138 to 21, this in an eight-home game schedule. I never heard anyone from the "eastern mafia" accusing Alabama of playing a soft schedule last year.

Texas, Alabama's opponent in the BCS title game, played home games against LA-Monroe, UCF, and UTEP, outpacing them by a combined score of 158-30. Texas also pounded Wyoming, 41-10, on the road. Once again, the mafia was silent. All four patsies yielded to the mighty Longhorns, 199-40.

I bring the subject of the mafia up because they are certain to hammer Pac-10 teams for playing a "soft" schedule. We can always remind them of their double standard, but that is what being a member of the mafia is all about, having double standards.

Playing a round-robin schedule, as the Pac-10 does now, means the conference has five more losses on its record than it would have in an eight-game-schlock-oriented schedule. Also, every other year, teams have to play five conference opponents on the road, instead of four, as Washington does this upcoming season.

So why not expand the conference to twelve teams and go with an eight-game schedule? (There must be an easier way to eschew round-robin scheduling, but alas, I yield to the powers that be.)

Improved Pac-10 records mean more bowl games and possibly a second BCS bowl game. The Pac-10 hasn't had two teams in the BCS bowl lineup since the 2002-03 season.

Does playing a softer schedule mean selling less tickets at home?

In Washington's case, as it begins to accumulate wins and bowl victories, it seems reasonable that Husky Stadium will be filled to capacity regardless of whom the Huskies play, whether it be Eastern Washington or Notre Dame.  If I'm going to travel to Seattle to attend a home game, I want to see the Dawgs win, not lose.

I'm not that excited about adding Colorado and Utah to the league, as everyone is speculating. But if they are the price for improved scheduling, I'll go along with them.

With a 12-team conference, having an eleven-game round-robin schedule, as some suggest, hardly smacks of 1080p foresight; instead, it's akin to making a sequel to the movie Dumb and Dumber in low resolution. So let's go with an eight-game format.

By the way, this doesn't mean the conference has to be split into what would be traditional Northern and Southern divisions, that is, a Northern Division consisting of UW, OSU, WSU, UO, Utah and Colorado, say. Such an arrangement means that it would be possible that a team from the Northern Division could miss traveling to southern California for two-straight years, a possibility that would hurt recruiting.

ESPN blogger Ted Miller -- and language maven -- hypothesizes a division consisting of USC, Stanford, Washington State, Arizona State, Utah and Oregon State. "Each Pac-12 team plays five divisional games as well as its traditional rival in the other division annually," Miller opines. "Each team then rotates two games among the other five teams in the other division."

As Miller notes, his hypothetical split preserves the border-war game, the annual hate-fest between Washington and Oregon. Also, Washington doesn't have to play USC every year (my note).

Using Ted's divisions (Table 1), I've worked out a hypothetical five-year conference schedule for Washington, as shown in Table 2. Over the five years, the Huskies play teams from the other division twice. Home games are in CAPS.

For example, in the year 2KX shown by Table 2, Washington's non-conference schedule could feature home games against teams of the ilk of Portland State, Idaho, Eastern Washington and BYU (the latter in a home-and-home arrangement, say). With Washington's present team, I could easily see it going at least 8-4 -- or perhaps even better -- playing that hypothetical schedule.

Table 1. Miller's split.

Miller's Division A Miller's Division B
Washington Washington State
Oregon Oregon State
Colorado Utah
California Stanford
Arizona Arizona State

Table 2. A hypothetical conference schedule for Washington appears below, patsies not included.

2KX 2KX+1 2KX+2 2KX+3 2KX+4
UCLA ucla UCLA ucla UCLA
UO uo UO uo UO
ua UA ua UA ua
cal CAL cal CAL cal
WSU wsu WSU wsu WSU
su USC asu SU osu
utah OSU usc UTAH asu

Richard Linde can be reached at malamute@4malamute.com

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