Posts Tagged “BCS”

… which of course makes for readership in his column.

Here’s the link to his column on why BYU isn’t in consideration for Pac-12 expansion. There’s a portion in there that is interesting:

[The Pac-10] has said it was looking for universities that are a good fit, academically and athletically, yet it never considered BYU. The reason most often cited: BYU wasn’t a “research institution.”

That all sounded logical until this week when the conference tried to woo six Big 12 schools and got just one. Yes, Colorado does well in research, as does Texas. But Texas Tech and Oklahoma State, to name two, aren’t on any list I’ve seen of best research schools in America.

Mr. Rock, the Pac-10 wanted Texas but couldn’t get them without the rest of the hangers-on (Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech – and Texas A&M originally). It was a package deal, and quite honestly, the Pac-10 was willing to take the whole package in order to get what it wanted.

But of course you play the religious bigot card again, like so many BYU sympathizers do.

Really, call it what it is – BYU is not a research institution, period. The top 25 overall research institutions include 6 Pac-10 schools (Stanford, Cal, UCLA, USC, Washington, Arizona). And also in that list? Texas and Texas A&M. BYU? Not on the list. The next 25? Includes Colorado, Utah, and Tempe Normal (ASU). BYU? Not on that list either. Hmm… that’s 8 current Pac-10 schools, plus three schools that were or are under consideration for expansion.

Looking at just Private research institutions, in the top 25 are Stanford and USC – the only two private schools in the Pac-10. And looking at just Public institutions, in the top 25 are Cal, UCLA, Washington, Arizona, Colorado, Utah, and Tempe Normal. The next 25 Public include Oregon, Washington State, and Oregon State.

In other words, in the top 50 Public Research Institutions, all 9 Public Pac-10 schools are there (along with the potential 12th school in Utah). In addition, Texas and Texas A&M were listed. And in the top 25 Private Research Institutions, both private Pac-10 schools are there. In addition, Baylor was listed.

Ok, so Baylor does more research than BYU. Heck, the New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology is ahead of BYU.

It’s not a religious thing. It’s not even a Sunday-scheduling thing. It’s a simple fact that BYU is not Pac-10 material academically. Yeah, the Pac-10 was willing to take on three schools (Oklahoma, OK State, Texas Tech) that were sub-par research-wise in order to get three schools that excel academically and research-wise (Texas, Texas A&M, Colorado), because that was the package deal for the Texas/Oklahoma schools. That’s just business. BYU does not make good business sense from that standpoint either. If that were the case, the Pac-10 would take Air Force too.

So stop pandering to the whiners and do some real journalism – which includes researching ALL the facts, not just what will get sympathizers to read your blog post.

As for “workinglate”, who commented on Mr. Rock’s post:

it’s not that BYU is not strong academically, it’s that it has very few PhD programs (most schools at BYU stop at a masters degree). PAC10 likes to have PhD programs. Comprared, BYU’s endowment is larger (by over $300M) so they have money for research, but UofU has a well recognized medical program. To say that the U is academically better than BYU is simply not true – no published report or ranking has BYU behind the U of U.

To that, and all those who agree with him, I submit to you this link to the World University Rankings where Utah is ranked 44th best University in the USA and Canada, while BYU is 67th.

Comparatively, other Pac-10 school ranks:
#3 Stanford
#4 California-Berkeley
#6 Washington
#17 UCLA
#27 Arizona
#31 USC
#41 Colorado
#49 Tempe Normal (ASU)
#57 Oregon State
#65 Oregon
#70 Washington State

(Yeah, we knew WSU was bringing up the rear, but that was already a given. BYU would be second to last here.)

And the other schools under consideration from the Big 12 in the top 100:
#12 Texas
#20 Texas A&M
#87 Oklahoma

So, yeah, picking up the 6 defectors from the Big 12 would have netted four schools in the top 100 Universities in the USA/Canada, three of which are in the top 25 of all research universities. I don’t think that’s too shabby at all for a “package deal”.

Colin Cowherd always says that the surest way to make money is to bet against a homer supporting his team. In this case, BYU supporters have a hard time separating their support for their school with the objective facts.

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So, it’s a forgone conclusion that the consolation prize for the Pac-10/11 is now the Utah Utes.
It’s official – the Pac-10 will be a 12-member conference (and probably called the Pac-12) as Utah will accept the invite from the conference.

Actually, I’m happy about it. I wasn’t really thrilled with the prospect of having to play Texas and Oklahoma in football every year – any thoughts of a Rose Bowl could just be kissed goodbye.

But now, with Utah and Colorado in the fold, a Rose Bowl is still possible, depending on which division USC gets placed in – and even then, we’ve got a good shot anyway for the next two years as USC is banned from the postseason.

All this conference expansion discussion is now moving toward finding out who the next BCS Automatic Qualifier (AQ) will be, if there even will be one.

According to the BCS, the rules for gaining an AQ are simple:

Under the terms of the agreements with the bowls and television rightsholder, the ACC, Big East, Big 10, Big 12, Pac-10 and SEC will have annual automatic qualification for their champions for the 2010-11, 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons.

Results from the 2008, 2009, 2010 and 2011 regular seasons will be evaluated to determine whether a seventh conference earns automatic qualification for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 bowl games.

This means that after the 2011 season, there might be a 7th AQ. How will they determine the next AQ?

Actually, it’s based on three criteria over the four-year review period:

  1. The final BCS ranking of the conference’s highest-ranked team
  2. The final regular-season rankings of every team in the conference by the six BCS computers
  3. The number of teams the conference has in the Top 25 of the final BCS standings

Criterion number 3 is based on points: a rank of 1-6 = 4pts, 7-12 = 3 pts, 13-18 = 2pts, and 19-25 = 1pt. There are adjustments to account for conferences that have a disparate number of teams:

  • 12+ members = no adjustments
  • 10-11 members = additional +12.5% of total
  • 9 or fewer members = additional +25% of total

A conference will become the seventh automatic qualifier if it finishes among the top six conferences in both [Criterion] No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 50 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.

This will all make sense in a moment. The first one is easy to figure out – the highest ranked team for each conference. Since the review period began in 2008, we only have two seasons to work with, making it very simple. Remember, this is an average of the highest final BCS rankings (pre-bowls) from 2008-09. It also takes into account the latest movements by Nebraska, Colorado, Boise State, and Utah:

  1. SEC: 1.5
  2. Big 12: 1.5 (yes, I know it’s a tie)
  3. Pac-10: 6
  4. MWC: 6.5
  5. Big East: 7.5
  6. Big Ten: 8
  7. ACC: 11.5
  8. MAC: 25.5
  9. C-USA: 38
  10. WAC: 50.5
  11. Sun Belt: 52

Really, all we care about at this point is the non-BCS conferences: Mountain West, WAC, MAC, Conference USA, and Sun Belt. And based on this listing for the past two years, it looks like the MWC is headed toward AQ status since it’s firmly entrenched in the top 6 (at number 4) for the first criterion.

The second part is trickier. I’ve seen a couple of blogs out there that attempted to calculate the final rankings by dropping high and low scores like the actual BCS formula does. However, the qualifications quoted above actually say “six”, not “four”, computer rankings will be calculated. That said, here’s the list for the second criterion:

  1. SEC: 38.7
  2. ACC: 40.4
  3. Big East: 43.4
  4. Big 12: 45.53
  5. Pac-10: 48.06
  6. Big Ten: 48.88
  7. MWC: 58.42
  8. WAC: 80.97
  9. MAC: 86.6
  10. CUSA: 81.06
  11. SBC: 95.94

MWC comes in 7th here. And while it _looks_ like they should catch the Big Ten, the reality is that the MWC as a whole really is three teams and a bunch of nobodies. You have Boise State, BYU, and TCU. The next best team after them? Air Force (averaging a rank of 50). And that’s not to mention New Mexico and Colorado State who are dragging everybody down with them (100 and 82, respectively).

What happens if they can’t reach that magic 6th spot? Well, there’s a provision for that:

… a conference will be eligible to apply to the Presidential Oversight Committee for an exemption if it finishes among the top six in both No. 1 and No. 2 and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3, OR

If it finishes among the top seven in either No. 1 or No. 2 and among the top five in the other and if its ranking in No. 3 is equal to or greater than 33.3 percent of the conference with the highest ranking in No. 3.

So, right now, the MWC needs to hit at least 33.3% of the conference with the highest ranking’s points.

Criterion number three requires a bit of research to find the final BCS rankings for the teams in the MWC. Note that this criterion pretty much puts the conference at the mercy of its best team.

To calculate the points, you check each conference’s members’ final rankings for 2008 and 2009 and see if any of them were in the top 25. If so, you assign points. For example, in the Big 12 in 2008, 5 teams finished in the top 25 – Missouri #21, Oklahoma #1, Oklahoma State #13, Texas #3, and Texas Tech #7. That’s worth 14 points. And in 2009, only Oklahoma State (#19) and Texas (#2) were Top 25 finishers. That’s another 5 points. That gives the Big 12 19 points. But since they only have 10 members (NOW), there is an added adjustment of 12.5% of the total. 12.5% of 19 = 2.375, so the Big 12′s total is 21.375.

Here’s the full list:

  1. MWC: 22.5 (–)
  2. SEC: 22 (97.8% of leader)
  3. Big 12: 21.375 (95.0%)
  4. Big Ten: 19 (84.4%)
  5. Pac-10: 19 (84.4%)
  6. Big East: 15 (66.7%)
  7. ACC: 12 (53.3%)
  8. MAC: 1 (4.4%)

CUSA, WAC, and Sun Belt Conference all have 0.

MWC definitely hits the jackpot here. The addition of Boise State raises their standing in the last criterion from 3rd place to leading the pack.

What does this tell us? Actually a lot. The reason why MWC is leading the pack is because of the bonus adjustment of +25% due to the fact that the MWC has nine teams. If the MWC expands to a 10th team (rumors are leaning toward the University of Houston) then the score for this criterion becomes 20.25, due to the adjustment being cut in half. Great, they still qualify, right?

Well, yes, if the AQ was determined now. But there’s still two years to go, and you have to believe that the trending for the MWC isn’t getting better for its teams – remember the exception process REQUIRES a 7th place score at worst – and several teams in the MWC got worse in ’09 than ’08. Air Force dropped from 39 to 59. Colorado State went from 62 to 101. New Mexico went from 86 to 115. UNLV went from 79 to 82. Outside of the big three (TCU, BYU, BSU) only Wyoming and San Diego State improved, but SDSU’s improvement isn’t saying much (110 to 95).

No, if trends hold true, MWC has no hope of climbing to 6th place in the 2nd criterion, and instead will have to apply for an exception… assuming that BYU and TCU continue to stay in top-25 form, because realistically, the rest of the MWC doesn’t have a chance to do that.

As for Boise State? Well, they were the big fish in the tiny, tiny pond of the WAC, now they’re a medium-sized fish in a bigger pond called the MWC, and they will have to play BYU and TCU every season instead of at the end of the season at a bowl game. In-season games make a huge difference on BCS rankings, and BSU just found it harder to get those undefeated seasons churned out.

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I touched on this last year here, where I laid out six reasons why the Pac-10 would not expand just willy nilly and grab Boise State and Utah.

Apparently, the new Pac-10 commish is seriously considering expanding, which is fine, but people need to understand that the Pac-10 is HEAVILY research-oriented and they are a major competitor in most sports, so several things must be factored into any school to be considered for expansion.

  1. Academics/research – Almost every school has either a major medical facility or research facility, and every school ranks in the top 100 in the world for academics. In the latest World University Rankings, Stanford is #3, California-Berkeley is #4, Washington is #6, UCLA is #17, Arizona is #28, USC is #32, ASU is #60, Oregon State is #72, Oregon is #82, and Washington State is #88.
  2. Presence – Every school is a major presence in their geographical area. There are no “tiny” schools in the Pac-10.
  3. Competition – The Pac-10 is the “Conference of Champions” for a reason: the number of championships won by the members of this conference FAR outnumber the total by any other conference. As such, members must have a tradition of competing hard and winning.
  4. Rivalries – Every school has a natural rival that also happens to be geographically “close” to each other. The farthest “rival” schools from each other are Washington (Seattle) and Washington State (Pullman), which are 5 hrs away by car.

So, knowing these are major criteria for any school to join the Pac-10, let’s go through some of the schools being touted by members of the media. The World University Rankings provides good insight on where these schools are ranked in relation to the rest of the world – more than 15000 universities across the globe are ranked in this research. Hence, the schools are sorted by World University Ranking.

  • University of Colorado (Boulder, CO) – Good research school, biggest presence in Colorado, however somewhat irrelevant lately in the Big 12 conference. Ranked #45 in WUR. Enrollment is over 30,000 students.
  • University of Utah (Salt Lake City, UT) – Major medical facility, major presence only overshadowed by BYU, major competitor in the Mountain West Conference. Location in large market. Ranked #48 in the World University Rankings. Enrollment is over 26,700 students.
  • University of New Mexico (Albuquerque, NM) – Plays in MWC, but is inconsistent in its competitiveness in men’s sports – the women, however, are rolling over their competition. Located in largest city in NM, also a known travel destination. Ranked #69 in WUR. Enrollment is over 24,000 students.
  • BYU (Provo, UT) – Biggest presence in Utah, major competitor in MWC. Location in smaller market. Ranked #84 in the World University Rankings (just ahead of Washington State). However, does not play any sports on Sundays, which is a major drawback to Pac-10 competition, and it has a dearth of graduate programs, also a turn-off for the Pac-10. Enrollment is over 34,000 students.
  • Colorado State University (Ft. Collins, CO) – Second biggest presence in Colorado behind UC, competitive member of MWC. Academia is still decent (#113 in WUR). Enrollment is over 26,000 students.
  • Utah State University (Logan, UT) – Plays in the WAC, but lately has been irrelevant. Located in very small market. Academics are better than half of the other schools being considered (#162 in WUR). Enrollment is just shy of 24,000 students.
  • San Diego State (San Diego, CA) – Competitor in MWC in many sports outside of football. Located in large market and travel destination. Ranked #233 in WUR. Enrollment is over 34,500 students.
  • New Mexico State University (Las Cruces, NM) – Competitor in the WAC. Located in small market. Academics are just ok (#276 in WUR). Enrollment is over 17,000 students. Second smallest school in consideration.
  • San Jose State (San Jose, CA) – Competitor in the WAC. Located in close proximity to Stanford, making it easy to reach. Part of the Cal State University system. Ranked #304 in WUR. Enrollment is over 32,000 students.
  • University of Wyoming (Laramie, WY) – Lately become more of a competitor in the MWC. Located in very small market. Academia is lacking (#374 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 14,000 students, making it the smallest school in consideration.
  • UNLV (Las Vegas, NV) – Competitor in MWC in many sports outside of football. Biggest presence in Nevada, location is well-known. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#388 in WUR). Enrollment is over 31,000 students.
  • Boise State University (Boise, ID) – Lately has owned the WAC in football, but that’s pretty much it. Biggest presence in Idaho, however that’s not saying much. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#491 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 20,000 students.
  • Fresno State University (Fresno, CA) – Competitor in the WAC. Part of the Cal State University system. Located in small market. Academics are not up to Pac-10 standards (#801 in WUR). Enrollment is over 22,000 students.
  • University of Hawaii at Manoa (Honolulu, HI) – Competitor in WAC. Located in supremely desired location – imagine what that does for Pac-10 recruiting (“hey, you can play for us AND you’ll get to go to Hawaii twice in your four years here”). Academics lag behind all other schools in consideration (#824 in WUR). Enrollment is over 20,000 students.

Now, just for grins I’m throwing in two schools:

  • Northern Arizona University (Flagstaff, AZ) – Small market, currently does not play Division IA in football, but does in everything else. Member of Big Sky conference. Academics are ok (#302 in WUR). Enrollment is just under 19,000 students.
  • University of San Diego (San Diego, CA) – Large market, competes in Division I for all sports except football. Member of Pioneer Football League for Division IAA. Academics are behind most other schools listed above (#747 in WUR), and enrollment is just a tad above 7,500 students – but that’s because it’s a private school.

Based on the information above, if I went solely on academia, then obviously my choices should be two of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico, BYU, or Colorado State. However, something else to consider is how the schools fare in athletics other than football. San Diego State is already an associate member of the Pac-10, so they automatically should be considered for expansion.

Hence, a Utah and San Diego State pairing would not be out of the question, though having those two play on rivalry weekend would be stretching a bit.

Geographically, SDSU and San Diego would make a perfect pair, except that USD doesn’t compete in Division IA football (stadium size is too small – 6000 seats), and USD’s research ranking is troubling.

SDSU and UNLV would make another “good” pair, as they are 5hr away by car – the same distance as Washington and WSU – but UNLV’s academic ranking is a 300 point drop from the rest of the Pac-10.

Utah and BYU would seem to be a marriage made in heaven, except BYU doesn’t play on Sundays, which becomes a problem for the other members of the Pac-10 who DO play on Sundays. And BYU isn’t all that competitive outside of football and maybe basketball or softball. And let’s not forget that BYU is distinctly lacking graduate programs, a big no-no when dealing with research universities.

Colorado/CSU would also seem to be a good match, but would Colorado want to leave the Big 12? Perhaps if they could guarantee one non-conference game a year against Nebraska. And I’m sure that CSU would jump from the MWC for the Pac-10 in a heartbeat – however, CSU probably wouldn’t get an invite without Colorado.

Utah/Colorado would be really good – 8hr drives not withstanding. This is probably the best pairing period.

Utah/Utah State is also not out of the question as they fit the presence and geographic criteria, and USU’s academia still is in the top 200 in the world. However, Utah State’s small market is very concerning, and like CSU, they probably wouldn’t get an invite on their own.

New Mexico/NMSU would be good geographically, but that also means the Pac-10 would have to take on a small school and weak academia (NMSU) and a low-key competitive-wise school (UNM). Granted, Stanford is also a small school (enrollment just under 15,000), but there’s a huge difference between Stanford and NMSU.

New Mexico/Colorado would be a good fit academically, and it’s actually a slightly shorter drive at 7.5 hrs, but again the inconsistent competitiveness of UNM is troubling.

New Mexico/NAU would be a surprise, though the distance between the schools isn’t all that far. But NAU’s small stadium and school size becomes an issue.

We know that the Pac-10 will not just add one school if it finally does choose to expand. And having an expansion helps other schools in the Pac-10 so they can round out football schedules (read: ASU) with Division IA teams.

I’m pretty sure that a BYU/UNLV pairing would probably not be highly thought of – complete polar opposite agendas there :)

As it is, BYU joining the Pac-10 is already under assault from Cal and Stanford – both far left-wing schools to begin with. Since any expansion requires an unanimous vote on schools to join, I believe that Cal’s opposition (Stanford notwithstanding) effectively kills any hope for BYU to join the Pac-10.

I think the biggest knock on one of the other teams, Colorado, is that they pretty much are a football school and really nothing else – there’s nothing really to gain from moving from the Big 12 (a BCS conference) to the Pac-10 (another BCS conference). Also, Colorado does not compete in several other sports that the rest of the Pac-10 does (swimming, baseball). However, there’s an outside chance that a CU-CSU pairing in the Pac-10 might pique their interest.

Thus, the best scenarios range from competitiveness in athletics to high academia to geographic location to just plain ol’ TV markets (in no particular order):

  • Utah / San Diego State
  • San Diego State / UNLV
  • Utah / UNLV
  • Utah / Utah State
  • Colorado / Colorado State
  • San Diego State / University of Hawaii at Manoa
  • New Mexico / UNLV
  • San Jose State / Fresno State

[2/11 UPDATE: The Big Ten has opened discussions with Texas to jump from the Big 12 to the Big Ten. If that happens, a Colorado jump from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 suddenly becomes a LOT more likely. If that is the case, look for a Utah/Colorado pairing to take place.]

The appeal of any scenario involving Utah is probably first and foremost in the new commish’s mind. And also the lure of the San Diego market is also very appealing. Like I mentioned above, a Utah/SDSU pairing would be very appealing for most everything except a geographic rivalry game – then again, all those Utah fans would probably jump at the chance to fly to San Diego every other year in late November.

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Apparently, there’s a new clause in the Rose Bowl contract (rumored to have been forcibly added by ESPN for the next four year cycle) that stipulates the Rose Bowl MUST take a non-BCS school that has qualified for a BCS game if either the Big Ten champ or the Pac-10 champ is playing in the National Championship game.

As soon as this information was leaked, multiple websites started popping up with opinions on how the Boise State Broncos were going to fill that slot every year, or how Utah was going to run the table in the Mountain West and face USC.

Ah, but there’s problems with that thinking:

  1. The contract clause stipulates that the Rose Bowl must take the non-BCS school the FIRST time the Rose Bowl loses one of their main participants to the Nat’l Championship Game. It specifically states the FIRST time – not EVERY time. This means that a non-BCS school has one shot in the next four years.
  2. The contract clause ALSO stipulates that the non-BCS school must QUALIFY for the BCS – ie. they have to rank in the top 12 of the final BCS standings. So, if an 11-1 Boise State, Utah, or TCU team ends the season at #13, and USC or Ohio State is in the Nat’l Championship Game, too bad, the Rose Bowl can select any of the top 12 teams it wants to instead.
  3. Finally, the contract clause states that the Rose Bowl only has to select ONE non-BCS school. This is important, because there is always the chance that the Pac-10 and Big Ten teams could meet in the National Championship Game, and the Rose Bowl would have to select two teams to play. If the Bowl hasn’t already selected its one non-BCS school in any year prior of this current four year block, it will only have to select one non-BCS team. Again, that means that if Boise State and Utah both end in the top 12, the Rose Bowl gets to choose which of the two would play in it, AND it doesn’t necessarily mean the higher one of the two will play in it, only the one that will bring more fan base to Pasedena will get there (read: Utah).

There is something to be said here about this clause though – it’s an antitrust killer. No more can the non-BCS teams claim “less access” to the major bowls. But remember, the non-BCS teams already have access to the major bowls – they just have to qualify like the rest of the group by being in the top 12 at the end of the season. This clause just opens up one more major bowl to that non-BCS group, whereas before the non-BCS schools only had access to the Orange, the Sugar, and the Fiesta Bowls.

So all those Boise State, Utah, and TCU fans are getting their hopes up for a spot in the Grandaddy of the Them All, right?

Oh, but … wasn’t there something in the news recently about the Pac-10 possibly changing their scheduling? If it comes to fruition, wouldn’t that raise the rankings of all 10 Pac-10 teams headed into conference play? Why, yes, yes it would.

And if there’s only 12 spots at the top to qualify for BCS bowl games, if just two more Pac-10 teams ended up in the top 12, wouldn’t that push the non-BCS Boise States and Utahs out of the loop? Why, yes, yes it would, but ONLY if that non-BCS school had a loss. An undefeated non-BCS school is pretty much going to make it no matter what.

Let’s look at the past three years to see what would have happened:

2006:

  1. Ohio State
  2. Florida
  3. Michigan
  4. LSU
  5. USC
  6. Louisville
  7. Wisconsin
  8. Boise State
  9. Auburn
  10. Oklahoma
  11. Notre Dame
  12. Arkansas

The only non-BCS school was Boise State at 12-0. California was 18th at 8-3. A 9-2 record would have placed them somewhere between 10th and 14th, so Boise State would have been safe.

2007:

  1. Ohio State
  2. LSU
  3. Virginia Tech
  4. OKlahoma
  5. Georgia
  6. Missouri
  7. USC
  8. Kansas
  9. West Virginia
  10. Hawai’i
  11. Arizona State
  12. Florida

The only non-BCS school was Hawai’i at 12-0. Arizona State was #11 at 10-2. An 11-1 record would have easily moved them up to an 8th – 10th spot, but with Hawai’i undefeated, the lowest that Hawai’i would have dropped was to 12, and that’s still a guaranteed berth.

2008:

  1. Oklahoma
  2. Florida
  3. Texas
  4. Alabama
  5. USC
  6. Utah
  7. Texas Tech
  8. Penn State
  9. Boise State
  10. Ohio State
  11. TCU
  12. Cincinnati

Three non-BCS schools here, two of which are undefeated (Utah at #6, Boise State at #9). TCU ended up at #11. Oregon, ranked #17, was 9-3. A 10-2 record would have bounced TCU from the ranks, because Cincinnati was going to end up in the top 12, no matter what since they were the Big East champion at 11-2.

Now, that examination was just an eyeball test. A truer test would be to take the Pac-10 schedules for those years, remove the first Pac-10 game scheduled for each team and replace it with a team from the Sun Belt or Mid-American conference or a Div I-AA team. That means that 5 teams would have one less loss and would definitely increase their ranking going into conference play. The real test is when this actually takes place in the coming years. We will see the effect that scheduling has on the BCS rankings.

And that, ultimately, will affect the participation in the Rose Bowl.

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So, Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples opined a piece where he states that the Pac-10 needs to expand to 12 teams in order to silence any remaining BCS bashers of the conference. He claims that the best way to do so is also the best way to make money.

His reasons are thus:
1. Bad TV deal puts Pac-10 behind the 8-ball when compared to the other major conferences (ACC, SEC, Big Ten, etc.)
2. No championship game (no “gravy train”, he says).

His suggestions are ludicrous – besides the obvious point of having a championship game, he wants the Pac-10 to expand to include Boise State and Utah as members. He claims that “By inviting the two biggest thorns in the BCS’ side to sit at the big table, the Pac-10 could protect the BCS and its precious Rose Bowl matchup with the Big Ten.” He then goes on to say that Utah and Boise State would make “fine conference rivals”.

Now, by no means do I disagree that the Pac-10′s TV deal with Fox Sports is laughable. Fox Sports got a steal on this contract, but with the new commissioner coming in this year, Fox Sports will not get such a deal any more. In fact, no TV network will get that kind of deal. However, any new schools would have to be able to increase the league’s television market share, according to the outgoing Pac-10 commish. Boise State (121st biggest market) doesn’t quite make the cut. Utah (35th) might.

Second, a championship game depends on location, and the Pac-10 is one of the most geographically spread out conferences (aside from the Sun Belt). A championship “gravy train,” as Staples puts it, completely depends on ATTENDANCE. Assume for just a moment that the Pac-10 even considers expansion, they would have to place the championship game in the location that makes the most sense to get the most attendance – which would be Los Angeles. That’s great, but what if the two schools in the game are NOT from California? Say, Washington State and Arizona? Are you going to tell me that the place would be sold out? I don’t think so.

Third, all the conference rivals are geographically located in proximity to each other. Arizona/ASU. Cal/Stanford. UCLA/USC. Oregon/Oregon State. Washington/Washington State. All of these rivals are only a maximum of 90 minutes away from each other by car. Boise State and Utah is a 4.5 to 6 hr drive, depending on which interstate you take.

Fourth, the Pac-10 will not bring in two schools for athletics for football only. If they’re in, they’re in for ALL sports. Considering that football and basketball are the only money makers right now, Arizona facing Boise State in track and field or UCLA facing Utah in women’s softball, both several times a year, is not cost effective.

Fifth, the Pac-10 conference is also a HUGE research-oriented conference and has high standards for academics, grad school, and other non-athletic requirements. Unless the schools have valuable contributions in the areas of research and development, the Pac-10 would not consider those schools. Unfortunately, Boise State and Utah do not quite fit those categories.

Sixth, if two teams were considered, they also need to bring either a national presence or an extremely huge regional presence. Is Boise State a national presence east of the Mississippi? Unless you’re from Boise, the answer is no. Is Utah? Maybe.

Some good examples – Colorado/Colorado State fits the former, but then again we fall into the geography problem with competing with the remaining members of the conference. Utah/BYU would be a better fit, but would BYU want to leave the Mountain West where they are top dog every year to become second-, third-, or even fourth-fiddle in the Pac-10? Probably not.

If we considered major regional presence, then good fits might be San Diego State and UNLV. Aside from Fresno State there aren’t any other Univ of California at ____ or Cal State ____ schools that play Division I football. The University of Hawai’i also could be a team to consider, seeing as every major market in the Pac-10 has direct flights to Honolulu, and EVERYONE has heard of and knows of Hawai’i.

No, Staples obviously didn’t put any real thought into his piece, he was just spouting off the cuff.

However, the Pac-10 will be taking steps anyway to assure themselves a better BCS shot each year by getting rid of round-robin scheduling and going back to playing only 8 conference teams each season instead of nine. This means that the schools will be scheduling one more “gimme” every season, just like the ACC, the SEC, and the Big 12 do. That means that the Pac-10 schools will head into the meat of their season – ie. conference play – with more wins, making the conference more relevant on a national scale.

They’ll also string out the schedule a little more in the season to allow for final games to be played during “Championship Week” in order to make the conference relevant in BCS discussions – one of the problems currently is that the Pac-10 (along with the Big Ten) wraps up their season a week or two too early. Now, that won’t be an issue.

So, does the Pac-10 need to expand? No, not really. Is there a championship “gravy train”? Maybe on the East Coast (again with the East Coast bias, Mr. Staples?) but not out West. Can the Pac-10 bring themselves back into one of the premiere football conferences? Absolutely, and they can do it all without ANY of Mr. Staples suggestions.

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