After the dust settled this summer, the Pac-10 conference added two teams -- Colorado and Utah -- in the first major expansion effort since Arizona and Arizona State joined the conference in 1978. With a 12-member conference, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott has been working since July to hammer out the details necessary to make it all work. On Thursday morning at 11:30 a.m., Scott will announce those plans to the world, following the vote to finalize the details.
The major issues on the table for the newly expanded conference included how to align the divisions -- a 12 member conference must have two divisions. Every school in the conference wanted a piece of Southern California -- with the fertile recruiting grounds and television exposure that comes with the biggest market in the conference. After a variety of divisional alignment ideas were thrown about, the conference settled on a North/South alignment, with California and Stanford joining the Northwest schools in the Northern division (via ESPN's Ted Miller).
Athletic directors voted 7-5 on the alignment -- Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC and Utah in one division and Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State -- in the other, Haden said.
Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State didn't want to become "the division up there" so ensuring they had a presence in California was a deal-breaker. The four California schools, however, wanted to maintain the rivalries they've had for decades. The result is likely scheduling concessions allowing the California schools to continue their annual games.
"I proposed a 5-2-2 model that has us playing the five schools [in our division] every year and then have the Northern California schools as part of our regular two and then rotate the other two. We need to play Stanford and Cal."
Maintaining the rivalries means the Northwest schools lose valuable games in Southern California each year. Instead of having a guaranteed game in LA each year -- against USC or UCLA -- the Northwest schools conceded the point, but forced the rest of the conference to make a big concession in their favor -- equal revenue sharing (via The Seattle Times' Bud Withers).
Sources familiar with the Pac-10's recent discussions over the expansion issues say the presidents will vote on a proposed $2 million-per-year payout apiece for USC and UCLA above the other 10 members of the new Pac-12 until the year that combined broadcast revenues reach a certain threshold. Then the 12 members would share equally.
On the surface, it seems like USC and UCLA won big in this scenario. In actuality, USC and UCLA are losing money, the rest of the conference will share revenue equally in 2011 and, in 2012 when a new TV contract is in place, the odds are high that the $2 million payout goes away. Over at CougCenter, I looked at the details of the revenue sharing proposal.
What does it all mean? Nothing, in fact. In 2011, USC and UCLA will get their $2 million payoff while the rest of the conference shares revenue equally. In 2012, when the new TV contract goes into effect, the entire conference will share revenue equally. Larry Scott set the threshold for equal revenue sharing knowing full-well that he could hit the number in contract negotiations.
In the end, the vote on Thursday is simply a formality. Equal revenue sharing, geographic divisions and a few scheduling concessions were agreed upon by the athletic directors after numerous concessions by every side. The conference athletic directors -- at the direction of Larry Scott -- worked together to find a deal that was acceptable for all.
The details of the Pac-12 will be announced during a stream press conference Thursday at 11:30 a.m.