Moves bolster bowl season for Pac-10

There is no question that given their recent football history, the Washington Huskies have an ambitious goal for the 2009-10 season; make it to a bowl game. And while everyone debates who won and lost during the dizzying last 12 days with regard to conference 'expansion', there's no doubt things have gotten a little crazier out west.

By including Colorado and Utah (expected later this week), the Pac-10 has added two sizable television markets, as well as a championship game to help line the coffers. While the ensuing scheduling headaches will undoubtedly cause new Pac-10 Commissioner Larry Scott a few migraines, there is one facet to all this restructuring that will surely bring a smile to his face - bowl season.

One of the first things Scott did as commissioner when he came on board last summer was change the conference's dilapidated post-season; it was an eyesore to anyone west of the Red River, and had been for some time. No offense to El Paso, Texas - a fine town in its own regard - but a third-place team in a BCS conference should not be playing their bowl game a stone's-throw away from Juarez.

Just to refresh everyone's memory, here was the 2009-10 Pac-10 Bowl Schedule.
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA (BCS vs. BCS)
Holiday Bowl - San Diego, CA (Pac Ten #2 vs. Big XII #3)
Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX (Pac Ten #3 vs. Big XII #5, Notre Dame tie-in)
Las Vegas Bowl - Las Vegas, NV (Pac Ten #4/5 vs. MWC #1)
Emerald Bowl - San Francisco, CA (ACC #7 vs. Pac Ten #4/5)
Poinsettia Bowl - San Diego, CA (Pac Ten #6 vs. MWC #2)

And here is the 2010-11 Pac-10 Bowl Schedule.
Rose Bowl - Pasadena, CA (BCS vs. BCS)
Alamo Bowl - San Antonio, TX (Pac-10 vs. Big 12)
Holiday Bowl - San Diego, CA (Pac-10 vs. Big 12)
Sun Bowl - El Paso, TX (Pac-10 vs. ACC)
Las Vegas Bowl - Las Vegas, NV (Pac-10 vs. Mountain West)
Fight Hunger Bowl - San Francisco, CA (Pac-10 vs. WAC)

Other than move the Sun Bowl down a spot (soon to be taken over by the Las Vegas Bowl if I have any say over things), the biggest change here is the elimination of the Poinsettia Bowl (a redundant, albeit nice location) for the Alamo Bowl, deep in the heart of Big-12 country.

Along with the Holiday Bowl, who has had a Pac-10/Big-12 matchup since 1998, and you have two premier games pitting two of the off-season's biggest realignment players, no doubt adding a little extra spice to the proceedings. Right now I'm doubting there will be too many Why this might mean a little more to the Pac-10 is how this realignment will impact the 'new' Big-12.

If people thought the Big-12 North was toothless with Nebraska and Colorado compared to its southerly neighbors, the new North has nothing on teams like Texas and Oklahoma now - literally. Kansas, Missouri and Iowa State all are winless against Bob Stoops and Mack Brown, and Missouri and Iowa State played in bowl games last year!

With eight bowl spots to fill for the 2010-11 season - and only 10 teams currently to choose from them - the math just doesn't add up. The gulf between the haves and the have-nots in this newest incarnation of the Big-12 won't be just seen looking at the bank deposit slips; it will also be seen on the field.

Can Texas Tech can keep up their Mike Leach ways without Leach and Kansas can keep up their Mark Mangino ways without Mark Mangino? Can Mizzou can find another Chase Daniel? Can Texas A&M compete for a title they haven't won since 1998? If Dan Beebe, the Big-12 Commissioner, decides to go shopping to fill his conference back up to 12, who is he going to entice? Boise State? Air Force? Houston? Tulsa? With this new Big-12, the questions just keep coming and coming.

Counter that with a revitalized Pac-10 and a Utah program that beat California in the 2009 Pointsettia Bowl and arguably had a share of the 2008 national championship after beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl - and this new, competitive 12-team league should be able to easily fill its bowl slots, and may even have room to gobble up some of the scraps left on the table by a Big-12 most likely unable to satisfy their own post-season obligations.

Granted, this boon won't come without some growing pains; the northwest Pac-10 schools will probably have to accept some sort of scheduling scenario that doesn't see them in the Los Angeles market every single year - for instance. And with all due respect to Colorado Head Coach Dan Hawkins, his team has been playing more like they were hanging in the intramural leagues of late.

But make no mistake - come holiday season the Pac-10 should be full of Christmas cheer for a change, while the rest of the Big-12 might be throwing some collective bah-humbugs toward Austin as they struggle with having to live with the Longhorns' sloppy seconds for at least the next seven years.

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