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Jeff Eisenberg

Eight teams the Pac-10 will have interest in adding

Jeff Eisenberg
The Dagger

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You've probably heard by now that Pac-10 commissioner "Larry Scott is seriously evaluating the possibility of his league becoming the Pac-12" by the time its TV contract runs out after the 2011-12 season.

Two more teams would allow the league to gain footholds in new markets that would increase its TV revenue and go to a two-division format that would allow for football to have a conference title game.

Such expansion would probably destroy the Pac-10's perfect 18-game basketball schedule in which every team has a travel partner, but that certainly won't be enough of a stumbling block to keep this from happening. What might be, however, is the notable lack of West Coast universities with the combination of academics, athletics and geography the Pac-10 is looking for.

Here's a look at eight of the most obvious candidates to join the Pac-10 in order of what I'd speculate the conference's interest level would be:

1. Texas

Pros: Elite football and basketball program, terrific market, good academic fit and situated in a recruiting hotbed

Cons: To the folks who have mentioned this possibility, get real. Never in a million years is Texas leaving natural rivalries with Oklahoma, Texas A&M and Kansas to face Oregon and Oregon State on an annual basis.

2. Colorado

Pros: The Pac-10 would gain a foothold in the Denver TV market, and Colorado might be amenable to such a move since its alums probably identify more with California than Ames, Iowa.

Cons: Back in 1994, Colorado was a football power that had occasional spurts of hoops success. Now? The Buffs are nearing doormat status in both.

3. Utah

Pros: The Utah football program would immediately be one of the conference's best, while the basketball Utes have solid tradition even if they're in the midst of a rough patch right now.

Cons: Is it worth destroying the set-up the Pac-10 has now to add the nation's 36th-biggest TV market?

4. BYU

Pros: Like Utah, BYU has the caliber of football and basketball program that ought to be competitive and even often highly successful in the Pac-10. Plus, adding both would be a natural geographic pairing much like the five the conference already has.

Cons: It's a scheduling nightmare for all sports but football that BYU doesn't play on Sunday. Plus, two footholds in that lucrative Utah TV market? That's probably at least one too many.

5. Texas Christian

Pros: Adding TCU would give the Pac-10 another elite football program and open doors for recruiting in the fertile state of Texas.

Cons: Ever noticed how far Fort Worth is from Seattle? It's geographically untenable and TCU wouldn't benefit the Pac-10 in anything besides football.

6. UNLV

Pros: The Las Vegas market is growing and attractive, as is a revived basketball program that has flourished under Lon Kruger.

Cons: That UNLV-Washington State football showdown is really going to put butts in the seats, huh? And then there's the gambling influences conference officials may frown upon.

7. Boise State

Pros: There's not a better football program in the country the Pac-10 could hope to add than Boise, which would probably leap at the chance to join a BCS conference.

Cons: Everything else. It's a bad fit academically because Boise's not the big research school the Pac-10 wants, nor are the Broncos' other athletic programs of the caliber they would need to be.

8. San Diego State

Pros: Easy travel, a potentially lucrative market and a basketball program that would likely be competitive.

Cons: The Aztecs would do nothing for the Pac-10's football prestige. And the Pac-10 already dominates the San Diego market without even having a team there so there would be little to gain.

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