Thu Jun 17 06:37pm EDT
If expanding to 12 schools causes the Pac-10 to place Cal and Stanford in the opposite division from UCLA and USC, count Bears coach Mike Montgomery among those who would not be pleased.
Montgomery said Thursday that he'd be "disappointed, shocked and dismayed" to only play UCLA once a year in basketball, citing nearly a century's worth of history between the UC System's two flagship schools. He also said he couldn't believe the conference would consider separating USC and Cal given the football rivalry that has developed.
"It would be shocking for us not to play UCLA twice a year," Montgomery said. "You're talking about the University of California and UCLA. That should be a natural. There's a tremendous rivalry there. And it would be shocking for me if Cal doesn't play USC in football. Something's going to have to give at some point, but I think there are some longstanding natural rivalries in this league that should be kept intact."
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn told the Denver Post on Wednesday that the Pac-10 will split into two six-team North and South Divisions, but commissioner Larry Scott insisted Thursday that officials "haven't decided yet." Bohn called being in the same division as USC and UCLA "a must," adding that Scott promised the Buffaloes would join Utah, the Los Angeles schools and the Arizona schools in the Pac-10 South.
It's possible that Scott has already made a decision or that he misled Bohn, but what's more likely is that he undervalued how important it is to teams in his league to visit Los Angeles in football and basketball at least once a year. Athletic directors probably made that case to him since Colorado joined the league, citing the exposure of facing USC football and UCLA basketball as well as Los Angeles' status as the West Coast's recruiting base.
Splitting the Los Angeles schools and Bay Area schools probably won't please any of them, but that may wind up being Scott's best solution anyway. If USC, UCLA, Stanford and Cal are all in the same division, the money, attention and TV markets would be concentrated in one half of the league.
Despite his objection to the proposed scheduling format, Montgomery isn't necessarily opposed to the addition of Utah and Colorado. The Cal coach said Colorado will fit in well with the Pac-10 and Utah's football program will provide a boost, adding that he would have been fine expanding to either 16 teams or 12 teams as long as it resulted in increased TV revenue.
"Everybody's chasing the almighty dollar right now because of the economy and the effect it's having on everything," Montgomery said. "If we don't generate more money from a television standpoint, then I don't think it will be a successful experiment. If it does, then that's what you had to do."