Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said Friday that the conference is at an optimal size and is unlikely to expand anytime in the foreseeable future. Read more at ESPN
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott says the conference will not add anymore teams "for the foreseeable future." It makes sense. There are not any schools in the geographic area that fit the rigorous qualifications the Pac 12 has set for themselves. BYU fits those standards, but it became obvious Larry Scott and the rest of the didn't want the school when they opted to take in Utah instead, establishing a foothold in the Salt Lake City television market. BYU, although more popular in Utah, would just be redundant.
So as other major conferences fall over themselves adding teams to either bulk up or replace teams that left, the Pac 12 sits still, unconcerned. Why? For one, there is no threat because there are no teams of Pac 12 quality in the west besides BYU, and the Cougars do not appear to want to join a conference other than the Pac 12. Boise State? Their football program is top notch, but their academics cannot match a Pac 12 school, nor can they afford to field all the athletic teams needed to compete in the conference.
Pac fans also enjoy playing the rest of the conference teams. After bringing in Utah and and Colorado, each school now misses a date with two other schools. Fans don't like it. Bringing in more schools only exacerbates this problem. 14 and 16 team conferences will soon discover that conference solidarity will suffer. How can a fan defend another team in their conference if their own team hasn't played them in two years? And who wants to travel to a school your team has no history with? Growth for the sake of growth will hurt conferences in ways we have yet to imagine. Larry Scott seems to know this, but if the SEC and Big 10 move to 16 teams, the Pac 12 will be forced to follow suit.
But perhaps I am wrong about Larry Scott's thinking. Maybe he is just sitting back, watching the Big 10 and SEC grow and waiting to see the Big 12's reaction. Will they panic and take in mediocre programs out of fear of losing television money? Will Texas and Oklahoma make threats to the other members, or will Texas buckle and give the other school a bigger piece of the money pie? The Big 12 is in a tenuous position with teams unhappy with Texas running the show, and one more defection could start a mass exodus to the developing super conferences. If that happens, there are only two teams the Pac 12 are interested in bringing in: Texas and Oklahoma. It would require some deft politicking to bring those two schools (and only those two) to the Pac 12, but it is not impossible.
Is this Larry Scott's plan? Is the Pac 12 waiting to feast on the carcass of the Big 12?