Immediately after Colorado and Utah joined the conference word leaked out that there would be a North/South split which would align the new members with the Arizona and LA schools. Within hours Larry Scott said nothing had been decided and everything was still on the table.
There was immediate resistance to a North/South split because the Bay Area schools understandably do not want to lose their rivalries with the LA schools. Washington has also been vocal privately about not wanting to be cut off from both the LA schools. All the California schools want to play each other every year. So how do you accommodate all those wishes in a 12 team conference?
The zipper idea which has been floating around for quite some time is beginning to gain major traction in the commissioners office. In one scenario under the zipper plan each rival would be placed in a separate division which would create as much balance as possible. The league would continue to play nine conference games each year which would create equal access for all to the Southern California market.
The Zipper Plan
Washington, Oregon, California, UCLA, Arizona, Utah
Washington State, Oregon State, Stanford, USC, Colorado, Arizona State
Does that take care of the California schools desire to play each other every single year? No, but it seems to be the only way of getting close to that type of scenario unless the conference decided to go with some sort of unbalanced scheduling formula no matter what type of divisions they end up with. There is some precedence within the conference for unbalanced schedules. It wasn't till the late 1960's that each school was required to play each other every season in a round robin format.
Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury has been following this closely and he says that the zipper is gaining traction.
As I should have noted initially (and readers mentioned below), an offshoot of the Zipper in which only the Bay Area and L.A. schools were split — one each with the NW schools, one each with the AZ and Mountain schools — could be/should be one of the scenarios under consideration.
The California Zipper
Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, UCLA, Cal
Utah, Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, USC, Stanford
The North South Split
Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, California
UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, Colorado
The California Split
Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Oregon, Utah, Colorado
Cal, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State.
Texas Football Classic
The forced contraction of the Big 12 doesn't sit very well with Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones. He isn't happy about losing the Big 12 championship game because it was a big moneymaker for his new stadium. What Jerry is trying to pitch now is an annual "Big Game/Classic" which would feature a power school from the SW region against a selection of top schools around the country. According to reports out of Baton Rouge - LSU and Oregon are trying to juggle schedules so they could face off in the inaugural game in 2011.
New Oregon AD
The University of Oregon has hired Rob Mullens who was an associate AD at Kentucky under Mitch Barnhart. Mullens, 41, has been at Kentucky since 2002, most recently helping oversee the Wildcats basketball and football programs. He has a financial background, but has no prior experience as an athletic director.
“This is a period of important growth and change for the athletics department. A new basketball arena will open within a year and additional improvements are on the way for other athletics facilities. It will be Rob’s role to not only oversee and promote future advances for the department, but to nurture the individual programs that will fill those outstanding venues.”