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After the Big Ten and SEC max out their conferences with major expansions that take them to 16 programs, the Pac-10 will get back into the game.  I’ve already predicted that the Pac-10 will execute a modest two program expansion that includes Colorado and Utah.  I think they will pursue a second expansion, but after further thought I do not think it will be to a maximum level of 16.  I think they will add two more teams to get to 14.

Part of my reasoning is that I don’t think there are four more candidates that would be good fits in the conference.  As Schmolik over at the bleacher report writes, it is difficult to find six ideal candidates for a Pac-10 expansion.  One school that he doesn’t include in his evaluation is Nebraska.  That’s because he’s assuming Nebraska will be invited to join the Big Ten.  I do not believe that will be the case.  I believe Nebraska will be invited and will join the Pac-10.

The Cornhuskers would be a big coup for Pac-10 football.  They will instantly be one of the top three programs in the conference, will bring some more national attention to the league and also have an excellent athletics program that has them currently ranked sixth in the Learfield Directors’ Cup standings.  While Nebraska’s culture and academics are not a perfect match for the conference, their athletics are ideal.  And since the Pac-10 has already moved inland with the addition of Colorado and Utah, their location will not be a problem.  Their move to the Pac-10 will also reignite their rivalry with Colorado.

The other school I believe will join the Pac-10 is Kansas.  The Jayhawks certainly don’t have the depth of sports programs that most Pac-10 schools have, nor are they a major power in football.  But I believe their incredible basketball history will carry the day and appeal greatly to the Pac-10.  The chance to have UCLA and Kansas compete for league titles year after year will be too much for the conference to pass on the Jayhawks.

So the Pac-10 will swoop in and grab a pair of the “remaining” Big 12 schools and greatly enhance their conference membership.  Would they consider additional schools to get to 16?  Sure.  But, I don’t think they’d have a lot to gain from adding Baylor, Kansas St., TCU or any of the other possible candidates.  Their only reasons for expanding further would be to keep up with the SEC and Big Ten or to expand into the Texas market.

What do you think of the new 14 team Pac-10?  Would Colorado, Utah, Nebraska and Kansas be good additions to the conference?

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After the Big Ten adds three Big East teams to its ranks to get to 14, the likely next move will be made by the Pac-10.  They have already started investigating expansion and will be able to react quickly after the Big Ten.

One of the important reasons for Pac-10 expansion is to get to 12 schools so it can start holding an annual football championship game.  At FanHouse Brian Grummell paints an excellent picture of the things that matter most for Pac-10 expansion.  The keys include institutions that focus on research and that are located in major television markets. 

I’m sure the Pac-10 would love to add Texas.  The Longhorns will be a target of every future conference expansion and I think they will eventually be nabbed, but not by the Pac-10. 

The three schools that have been talked about most in regards to Pac-10 expansion are Colorado, Utah and BYU.  Colorado is a natural fit in the conference.  Their academic profile is ideal, they have a solid athletic program history and Denver is a large television market.  Between the two Beehive State schools BYU has a better athletics history, but Utah is really the much better fit for the Pac-10 from a research standpoint and the fact that it is in a larger television market.

So I think the Pac-10 will go against its history of adding rival schools (for now) and will invite, and add, Colorado and Utah.

After these two moves, who’s next?  Will the Big East and Big 12 counter the pilfering of their programs?  Are the ACC and SEC ready to grow?  Is the Big Ten headed for further expansion?  I’ll post my thoughts in a couple of days.

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