The Pac-10 had a solid plan for divisional realignment. Whatever six Big 12 schools were coming would join Arizona State and Arizona for an eastern division. The old Pac-8 schools would stay in the western division.
But now that the Pac-10 has gone from a hoped-for Pac-16 to the Pac-12 by adding Utah and Colorado, the politicking has begun again. And it’s not easy.
I assume Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott had to do a lot of talking to get Arizona State and Arizona to agree to leave its 32-year partners in a new division. UofA and ASU are like every other school in the Pac-10; they make the most out of those annual football trips to Los Angeles to play either UCLA or USC.
Which is why the new Pac-12 will have trouble slicing up the divisions. Colorado officials said they had agreed to be in a Pac-12 South with Utah, the LA schools and the Arizona schools.
But that apparently has brought angst from the North schools — Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. All recruit greater Los Angeles and reap the benefits of a game a year in southern California.
Go to that scheduling format with an eight-game conference schedule, and the North schools would go to LA only twice every four years. Go with a nine-game conference schedule, in which every school would have an annual crossover opponent, and that would solve the problem of probably Cal (paired with UCLA as University of California system partners) and Stanford (paired with USC as the only private schools in the league). But the four schools of the Pacific Northwest, which need the LA exposure worse than anyone, would still be disenfranchised.
Some have suggested a zipper format, whereby each set of natural partners — UW-WSU, Oregon-Oregon State, Stanford-Cal, SC-UCLA, UofA-ASU, Utah-Colorado — would be split. Washington State and Washington would be placed in separate divisions, same with the Oregon schools, the Arizona schools, etc. Then play a nine-game conference schedule and allow your natural rival to be an annual opponent.
Using that method, every team would play in Los Angeles seven times every 10 years.
And you think this is complicated. Just wait until we get around to dividing up the Big Ten.