Greg Byrne made his maiden voyage to Oklahoma as Arizona's athletic director on Monday afternoon. Who knows how often he might be coming back? On the evening that Byrne's Wildcats continued their championship quest in the Women's College World Series with a 6-5 loss to UCLA, conference realignment talk hung as heavy as the humidity.
Could the two schools playing at Hall of Fame Stadium soon be conference foes for Oklahoma and Oklahoma State? Could the Wildcats and the Bruins, the Sooners and the Cowboys be one big happy family by this time next week? Could Arizona even be a divisional opponent for OU and OSU, a regular visitor to our fair state for everything from football to softball? Byrne wasn't about to say. "Everything's going through Commissioner Scott right now,” he said of Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. "Everything with expansion.” Even though Byrne was similarly evasive to several more questions about the possibility of conference realignment, he couldn't evade the one truth that is universal. It is the same whether you're in Pullman, Wash., or College Station, Texas, or Tucson, Ariz. The more money, the better. "No matter what situation's taking place, whatever we're involved with ... you're going to look at the league as a whole,” Byrne said, "but obviously a big responsibility I have as the athletic director is to look out for what's best for the University of Arizona.” So, what is best for the Wildcats? "It's important ... that you're in a position to continue to be a strong part of a conference where you can generate revenue and support your whole structure of intercollegiate athletics in your university.” Don't let all the athletic director babble distract you from the important words in what Byrne said. Generate revenue. Support your whole structure of athletics. Those two things are at the heart of what's going on right now. The Pac-10 is like any conference; it talks about all sorts of changes from time to time. Adding teams. Changing bowl affiliations. Adjusting divisions. Moving conference tournaments. Renegotiating television contracts. Every bit of it is done in an effort to make the conference as strong as it can be.