According to ESPN, the Pac-10 will soon have twelve teams, as the Utah Utes are expected to leave the Mountain West (MWC) and join Colorado as the newest members of the Pac-10.
This is a huge pickup for the Pac-10, which adds another strong program to their conference, especially during a time when conference powerhouse USC could struggle following NCAA sanctions. The Utes went undefeated in 2004 and 2008, winning the Fiesta Bowl and Sugar Bowl respectively. They went 10-3 last season.
The big loser in this move? The MVC and, by extension, Boise State. The Mountain West gains a marquee program, and then loses one a week later. While the Broncos are probably slightly better from a football standpoint, the Boise market is only the 112th biggest in the U.S., whereas the Salt Lake City market is 31st. At the end of the day, this makes the expansion game, at best, a wash for the conference.
But if you factor in that a dissolved Big-12 might have allowed the MWC to pick up teams like Kansas, Missouri, Baylor and the like, they can’t be too pleased about the way it turned out.
And what of our BCS-busting Broncos? They must feel like they can’t catch a break. They rid themselves of the Western Athletic Conference and its overall mediocrity to join the MWC, only to see one of the best teams in the conference leave.
Make no mistake, the MWC is still a strong conference. Texas Christian University is 53-11 over the past five years, and BYU is 43-9 over the past four. They’re a clear upgrade over the WAC.
But ask the Big-10 what having three teams in the top 12 of the final AP poll means for the perceived power of your conference. In today’s world, it’s more about depth of top-end talent and facing good opponents week to week than a pair of great teams and then mostly mediocre ones.