October 21st, 2010 5:33 pm | by HANK STERN News | Posted In: CLEAN UP, Sports, Sports, Sports

How the Pac-10 Will Become the Pac-12

A quick update to a piece I wrote in June about the Pac-10's realignment into the Pac-12.

One open question back then was how the 10-team conference, with the addition of the universities of Colorado and Utah, would split into two divisions for football. Here's what I wrote then:
Now that there's going to be a Pac-12, here's something to watch for in recruiting, if and when that larger league splits into two divisions: Will Oregon and Oregon State remain in a division with USC and UCLA?

Imagine a scenario where Oregon and Oregon State are put in a division with historic rivals like Washington, Washington State, Stanford and California.

A small state like Oregon doesn't have enough top high-school players for Oregon and Oregon State to rely on for recruiting a competitive team. So both draw heavily from talent-rich Southern California (last year's Oregon team listed 37 players from Southern California, including standouts like tight end Ed Dickson, linebackers Casey Matthews and Spencer Paysinger and defensive end Kenny Rowe), in part by telling teen-agers that their families and friends can see them play once a year when the Oregon schools go to play either USC or UCLA. Put those schools in a different division and that's no longer the case.

In fact, conference commissioner Larry Scott announced this morning that the re-alignment will have Oregon State and Oregon in a northern division with Washington, Washington State, Stanford and Cal. The other division will have UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State and the two new schools—Colorado and Utah.

The football schedule will have nine conference games. Teams will play the five teams within their division and four cross-division games. However, the northern California and southern California schools are guaranteed annual games against each other despite the fact they are in separate divisions.

That's a drag for the Oregon schools that they can't pitch their football recruits guaranteed visits to Los Angeles each year, though there's an argument to be made that the Ducks have reached enough of a point of recruiting nationally that southern California means less than it once did. Yes, it's true that the Ducks recruit nationally but today's news is still a blow to Oregon and Oregon State.

Meantime, one other intriguing announcement from today is that the new conference championship game for football will not be at a neutral site. Instead, it will be played at the home stadium of the school with the best record.

Feel free to discuss all this here. As for me, I'm getting into a car to head down I-5 for tonight's UCLA-Oregon game.
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