With the talk of expansion now coming to fruition and the Pac-10 adding two new athletic programs to its conference, there is a lot of speculation how this will affect both major college sports.
Many speculate that this will ultimately be a good thing for both basketball and football, but there are both positives to take away from expansion.
In football, it will be a much more competitive conference than people realize, especially with the addition of Utah. The Utes have gone undefeated as recently as 2008 and have been a major player in college football since the mid-90's.
Arguably the most underrated football program in the nation during that timeframe, Utah holds the nation's longest bowl winning streak in the country at nine. The Utes have also won seven of their last 10 games against Pac-10 opponents and given how tightly-knit the conference already as, adding Utah is going to make it that much more competitive.
The real question is can the Utes keep a level of consistency when forced to play in a much tougher conference. Sure, Utah played against the BYU's and TCU's of the world, but outside of those two teams, Utah was hardly tested within its own conference.
Where Utah has really proven itself is in bowl games against tough competition. The Utes have been able to defeat teams like Cal, Alabama, Pittsburgh and Georgia Tech in recent years. They have not lost a bowl game since 1996 and, during its streak, Utah has only had bowl victories of fewer than 10 points twice.
Utah should be able to compete with every team in the conference right away; it's just a matter of bringing it every week, which wasn't always required in the Mountain West.
Colorado has a solid history behind it, but has had one of the worst stretches in program history in recent years. The Buffaloes have only one bowl appearance in the last four years under Dan Hawkins after making five bowls in seven seasons under Gary Barnett.
Once considered a powerhouse, Colorado is looking to get back to that level. Going to a conference in the shape that the Pac-10 is could allow the Buffaloes to do so. CU will have to get things going in the right direction before it officially moves over to the Pac-10 because by the time it arrives, USC and Oregon are going to be further away from the issues that have plagued their entire offseason and in the Trojans' case, the following two years.
On the basketball side of things, it's a bit more up in the air.
No offense to Colorado fans, but the basketball program brings virtually nothing to the table. The team hasn't won a tournament game in 13 years and finds it difficult to finish anywhere higher than the middle of the conference it is currently in. Moving into a Pac-10 conference that should be coming of age by the time the Buffaloes arrive does not bode well for that program.
The best Colorado can expect to do in a few years is hope to improve its recruiting so by the time it arrives in the Pac-10, it can field a much more talented unit. If they go in as is, the Buffaloes will take years to catch up with the rest of the conference.
Like football, Utah presents more competition in basketball. The Utes have more NCAA Tournament appearances than anyone on the west coast not named UCLA or Arizona, so their impact on the league should be felt immediately. Jim Boylen struggled in his third year as Utah head coach, but has put together the talent base to right the ship rather quickly.
After years of success under Rick Majerus, the Utes struggled in the final two seasons under Majerus' replacement, Ray Giacoletti. The Utes wee impressive in Giacoletti's first year, but finished with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time in over two-decades and Giacoletti was shown the door.
Boylen got Utah back to the tournament in his second year but was knocked out in the first round by Arizona. Utah took a step back in 2009-10, but Boylen appears to have everything going in the right direction.
The hope is that Colorado can improve so it doesn't affect the league's RPI too much. The Pac-10 has struggled with RPI more in recent years than it is used to so adding a down program like Colorado could – in theory – hurt it even more.
Luckily, the conference was able to snag Utah. While not as popular as some of the other Big-12 teams that were previously rumored to be joining the conference, Utah is a solid, if not severely underrated, two-sport school that should improve the level of play in the Pac-10 for both major sports.
A look at what expansion brings
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