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After the 16pocalypse: The Pac 10


Like the previous installment of this series, this one features a conference returning to a lineup that it had for what seems like forever (at least to someone who might have been alive for a few years in the 1970s, but certainly doesn't remember anything from then). But it's the last major conference to cover, so here goes...

Like the Big Ten, the Pac 10 simply reverted to a format it had been in for decades when the super-conference format (and even the 12-team conference with a championship game format) no longer was viable in the eyes of the TV networks. Although Larry Scott briefly toyed with the idea of going all the way back to the Pac 8, in the end he (and the Pac 10's members) felt the 1978-2010 ten-team version of the conference was the correct way forward.

League Name: The Pacific conference had never shied in changing the number associated with its name to reflect reality; it went from the Pac 8 to the Pac 10 to the Pac 12 (and even the Pac 16 in the brief super-conference era). So it should be no surprise that it returned to the Pacific 10 when it dropped back to ten members.

Members: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State -- all the major schools in the west coast (and Arizona).

Advantages: Four major media markets (LA, SF, Phoenix, Seattle) and every second-tier market on the west coast. One elite football program (USC) and two elite basketball programs (UCLA and Arizona). Five pairs of strong rivalries. A fertile recruiting ground in both football and basketball in California (not great per capita, but CA is the most populous state by a large margin, and isn't terrible per capita). Only just barely fewer people in Pac 10 states than Big Ten states.

Disadvantages: Long travel distances and late starts inherrent to being on the west coast. Washington State is in a small city and somewhat remote. Most schools are in/near major cities and need to compete with pro sports for fans.

Summary: Except for the bad TV contracts and bowl deals pre-Larry Scott, the Pac 10 was a pretty nice conference before it expanded, and stayed that way when it returned to ten members. Even if it is a bit stodgy in this form by California standards.

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