Sunday, June 6, 2010

On Pac-10 expansion

Well, it looks real now. Really real. Which means we can outsource the official reaction to this YouTube clip:

Does that make the Pac-10 Brick Tamland? Why yes, I suppose it does, doesn't it?

Now, let's go with the Stanford focus here. What's in it for us? Well, for one, mo' money. But let's outsource the official tag-a-long to mo' money:

That's right: mo' problems. The Sears Cup sports wouldn't be overly affected--they're very good and should remain...very good. The relatively major sports--i.e. football, basketball, baseball and women's basketball--are where the problems might lie. Women's basketball-wise, Stanford is still the best team historically, but it won't boss around the conference like it used to. This is fine. Basketball-wise, you're introducing Texas--and whatever Rick Barnes's other problems, he's a hell of a recruiter, meaning that Texas will probably have the edge in talent every time we play them--but not much else. (Well, in some scenarios Baylor, but I don't expect them to hang around long. Oklahoma is up-and-down basketball-wise.). It's football where it looks dicey: depending on the exact composition of the invites, the league could become far more difficult. But you're certainly getting Texas and Oklahoma, which is bad re: winning.

Now, the structure of the conference is as follows: the six Big-12 teams with Arizona and Arizona State as one division; the original Pac-8 in another division. Assuming a nine-game conference season in football, that means you play all the teams in your division plus two in the other division. In years you're playing, say Colorado (or Baylor, for that matter) and Texas A&M (assuming it continues stuck in the doldrums), then you're looking good. If the roulette wheel lands on Oklahoma and Texas, well, most years for Stanford that's two conference losses right there. Every good Stanford fan mostly just wants to go to the Rose Bowl in football, and this undoubtedly makes things more difficult: it's possible for one of USC, Texas, and Oklahoma to have a down season. It seems considerably more unlikely that two or three of these teams would have a down season (because to get to a Rose Bowl, we'd definitely have to get past USC, and then the winner of the "Big-12" division, which probably means either Texas or Oklahoma). It's even more unlikely that two or three of these teams are having a down season simultaneously while Oregon, Cal, UCLA and the rest of the conference's middle class are having a down season too. Last year might well have been the closest we'll get to that scenario: we beat USC, lost to Oklahoma (with Luck hurt)...but Texas was Texas and besides, Oregon was one of the better teams in the country. Thinking about it this way makes the stakes more clear: Stanford would either have to become much better or much luckier to make the Rose Bowl, and from where I'm typing, this looks unlikely.

We do have one thing the rest of the conference doesn't: Andrew Luck. Take that, suckers!

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