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Column: Assessing the Pac 12’s future plans

Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott made the formal announcement on Thursday with the future plans of the conference once Colorado and Utah join the mostly west coast athletic conference on July 1, 2011. It was confirmed that the conference would split in to two separate divisions, a conference championship game will take place, and the conference will convert to a revenue sharing system that will provide equal cash flow to each member institution.

Arizona State President Michael Crow opened the press conference by stating that the plans that were announced were voted on unanimously among the 12 presidents from the Pac 12 schools, which made the transition an easy one. Scott notably has already started to convert by calling the conference the Pac 12 on multiple occasions.

“This is truly a historic day for the Pac-12 Conference,” Scott said.


When the conference discussed the best way to split up the divisions the athletic directors were more opposed to the idea than the athletic directors. Here is how the divisions are set up:


  • California
  • Oregon
  • Oregon State
  • Stanford
  • Washington
  • Washington State


  • Arizona
  • Arizona State
  • Colorado
  • UCLA
  • USC
  • Utah

The schedule for the conference will feature nine conference games. Each school will play five division games and four crossover games. The division format keeps many of the conferences traditional rivalries in tact and inter-divisional match-ups are locked in for certain schools, including the California schools, who will continue to play each other.

“Our rivalries have been kept completely intact,” Scott said.

The scheduling is not without its flaws though as some of the northern schools may get locked out of some trips to southern California, which is generally a perk, pushed during recruiting talent.

Winners: USC, UCLA – These schools got their way by getting to keep Cal and Stanford on their respective schedules, which also means fewer games out of the state of California.

Losers: Oregon and Washington schools – Fewer trips to California and more to the mountains and dessert.


The SEC plays their conference championship game in Atlanta and the Big Ten will play their first championship game in Indianapolis. The ACC plays in various sites but always in an NFL venue. The Big 12 played last year’s conference championship in Cowboys Stadium.

The Pac 12 will play their championship game on the campus of their top team.

With some high quality venues out west in the conference’s foot steps it came off a tad disappointing to hear that the Pac 12 opted to keep the game on their campuses, at least for next year. Maybe the presidents are weary of attendance or travel issues or maybe it was just unable to settle on an ideal neutral site.

The two division winners will meet at the school with the best conference record (and a tie-breaking system will be adopted in case it is needed) in December. Keep in mind there is no set plans for beyond next season, so when the current television contracts expire do not be surprised if a new television deal means the conference finds an attractive neutral site for their championship game.

Winners: Utah, Oregon State – Schools like these would love the national spotlight a championship game on their campus might bring.

Losers: Pac 12 – The move seems to lack firepower on a national scale for now, but we will see if they can prove the naysayers wrong.


Generally speaking this is a win-win for the entire conference. Equal sharing more or less makes everybody happy even if it means some schools will not receive the same percentage as before. Conference stability is more secure in this system and the Pac 12 is following in the footsteps of the SEC and Big Ten in this respect. Once new television deals are sorted out after next year the Pac 12 could benefit from this system even more, especially if they can create their own network similar to the Big Ten Network.

Winners: Utah, Colorado, Washington State, Washington – This is the big reason Colorado jumped the Big 12 ship. Utah stood to receive much more money anyway by leaving the Mountain West but this makes sure that Utah is being paid the same amount as USC and Oregon. Programs that have struggled, like the Washington schools, also win under this plan.

Losers: USC, UCLA – Before the Trojans took the largest share based on television appearances and UCLA benefited form the Los Angeles market. Now the playing field will be evened across the board.

About the Author

Kevin McGuire
Contributor to College Football Talk on Also a contributor to Athlon Sports and The Comeback. Member of Football Writers Association of America and National Football Foundation. Follow on Twitter @KevinOnCFB.