There’s a lot to like about Colorado and Utah joining the Pacific-10 Conference in 2011 — both are prestigious research institutions of learning with strong traditions in football.
But now there’s something not to like. That is, their placement within the conference.
Sure, conference representatives can spin the how’s and why’s it’s the right configuration, but the placement of Colorado and Utah in the PAC-12 South ultimately means the break-up of California. That is, the Buffaloes and the Utes have usurped the Bears and The Trees.
Stanford and Cal will now be in the PAC-12 North, joining both Oregon schools and both Washington schools.
Most significantly for the conference and its fans is the possibility of the diminishing iconic PAC-10 rivalries like UCLA-Cal and Stanford-USC. There are only so many out-of-conference games in the schedule. Will the rivalries remain or will they be tossed aside if the conference adopts a round-robin style intra-conference schedule?
What would a PAC-10 season be like without those games? Who knows. We’ve never seen one.
There are certainly two sides to this matter. Coaches at the new Northern Division are probably pleased at the possibility of not having to play USC every season; coaches in the new Southern Division will probably see increased interest in their programs that’ll be generated from playing Colorado and Utah.
But the long-term effects of splitting up California’s major academic institutions, no matter how sports-centric, can be harmful. There’s already enough existing North v. South sentiment without adding to the segregation any further.
The PAC-10 made a mistake here. The roots of which will now bare themselves in the Golden State.