With the craziness of signing day over it was nice to take a week off from blogging and the computer in general to spend a week down in the sunny British Virgin Islands. We were supposed to have WiFi and did have it for short periods but the dial up connection speeds didn't even allow us to keep up with email let alone surf the web.
One interesting thing I did hear post signing day was that Josh Shirley was pretty close to being a Husky. At around 9:30 in the morning it looked like that was the way the cards were going to fall. Steve Sarkisian even moved his press conference back 45 minutes in anticipation that he was going to pick UW. In the end Shirley flip flopped about thirty seconds before he went on TV and picked UCLA rather than Washington. I am not so sure that it was simply about UW or UCLA...sounds to me it was more about staying home or going away from home.
One glance at the Pac 10 basketball standings shows that the Huskies are still couple of games out of the lead which means there is a zero margin for error the rest of the reason. The rest of the schedule however is favorable with the two LA schools coming to Seattle followed by a road trip to the Willamette Valley and Pullman. Realistically if the Huskies don't win the conference title they need to finish with at least 22 wins and get to the tournament finals to have serious shot of being considered.
Another blip I noticed while I was gone is that Enes Kanter has opened up his recruitment again. Washington is still in it but he wants to continue looking around before he signs. In the end he just might end up in the NBA because the NCAA is going to question his participation on a pro team in Europe.
Pac 10 Expansion
The most notable league news of the week happened last Monday when Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott hired former Big Ten deputy commissioner and Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as the Pac-10's chief operating officer. Weiberg spent a decade working with Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany and after eight years with the Big 12, he returned in 2007 to oversee the Big Ten Network start-up. The hiring of Weiberg means the conference is serious about exploring expansion and at the very least forming their own TV network.
The buzz going around is that Missouri will leave the Big 12 to join the Big 10 if asked and Colorado could possibly join the Pac 10 in tandem with Utah. There is no question that Utah would jump if asked but the incentive for Colorado at this point is less than clear since most of their traditional rivals are in the Big 12.
As far as a conference TV network is concerned the Pac 10 likely won't be doing it on its own. The ACC and the possibly about to be plundered Big 12 are candidates to partner with the Pac 10 in the venture. Keep a sharp eye focused on Texas. The Big 10 is currently in discussions with the Longhorns. Texas is in the mood to start shopping itself around.
John Wilner has this take on Pac 10 expansion.
Have heard, read and seen a load of speculation about which schools the Pac-10 would add if it does expand (presumably to 12 teams, but if the Big Ten goes to 16, then all hell might break loose).
The Lawrence Journal-World is reporting that the Big Ten is talking to Texas. If UT bolts the Big 12, then obviously that would have huge financial implications for that league and could potentially spur Colorado to jump to the Pac-10.
My take is that the Pac 10 could be looking at expansion right now as more of a form of a survival mode. In a perfect world the conference is happy and balanced with ten teams. The league would take Colorado and Texas in a heartbeat but a move to add Utah and Colorado would bring in the #18 and #31 TV markets, seal the door of intrusion at the Continental Divide, and effectively keep the Mountain West from gaining ground on the Pac 10. It wouldn't however significantly raise revenues for the existing conference members which is the only reason you should be considering expansion in the first place.
This week I will take a closer look at expansion from a national scope since it seems to be the hot topic of the moment. If the Big 10 goes to 12 teams I don't think it will have much of a ripple effect. If they make the move to 16 teams all hell will certainly break lose.
On the legislative front the so called Husky stadium bill moved forward House Finance committee after a 6-3 vote. The only hitch in the plan is that the way the bill is currently written it will not include renovations to Husky Stadium, Key Arena or future maintenance for Safeco Field. The House wants to keep the tax going indefinitely but starting in 2012, the money would be redirected to the arts, low-income housing, tourism promotion and a host of other projects to be determined by King County.
It just shows you how shortsighted the politico's in Olympia are. Maintaining the Puget Sound area's sports infrastructure is a wise investment that needs to be made now and in the future. The tourist tax is a great and painless way to achieve that goal. Diverting the tax for other uses it was never intended for is simply an example of political hijacking. UW backers in the House could still seek to amend the bill to allow help for Husky Stadium.
Jim Sterk Bails
WSU's Jim Sterk is headed off the San Diego to become the new Aztec AD. Sterk did a credible job while in Pullman but the pressures of running an under funded athletic department in a competitive BCS conference apparently took its toll. San Diego State isn't exactly a lateral move. Moving from the BCS to a school in a non BCS conference with plenty of challenges of its own is a curious move. San Diego isn't exactly a cheap place to live either. Nick Daschel had these comments.
There’s no question Washington State is the worst job in the Pac-10, and Sterk was about to run into some serious obstacles during the next 18 months. He works with the smallest budget in the Pac-10, and the department’s money maker – the football program – is going through its roughest patch in history. Martin Stadium is in need of an expensive upgrade, and Cougar boosters aren’t exactly emptying their wallets onto Sterk’s desk.