Bears to Join Pac-10 North, Still to Face L.A. Squads

Photo: Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour is one of 12 athletic directors to play a part in constructing the Pac-12. The conference will be divided into North and South divisions.
Karen Ling/File
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour is one of 12 athletic directors to play a part in constructing the Pac-12. The conference will be divided into North and South divisions.

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SAN FRANCISCO - A large, color-coded map was propped up next to Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott during Thursday's press conference at the Fairmont Hotel. Cal and Stanford were backed by blue, marked as part of the Pac-12 North. USC and UCLA floated over the gray of the Pac-12 South.

Scott and Michael Crow, Arizona State president and chair of the Pac-10 CEO group, announced the future alignment of the Pac-12, effective July 1, 2011. University presidents and chancellors voted unanimously for the geographical split over what Scott said were about half a dozen other plans - a decision based primarily on preserving traditional rivalries, along with balancing competitiveness, fan-friendliness and geography.

"Our ambition is to really broaden the following of this conference on a much more national basis and even global basis," Scott said. "Top of mind for us in thinking about how to create these divisions, how to label them, was simplicity."

Under the new schedule, both Cal and Stanford will be guaranteed annual games with both Los Angeles schools. The Bears have played the Trojans every year since 1926, and the Bruins every year since 1933.

The Northwest programs will visit Los Angeles once every other year.

Every team will play five games against divisional opponents, along with four cross-divisional games.

A Pac-12 championship game will be hosted by the team with the best overall conference record, with the first tiebreaker being head-to-head performance. Although the commissioner acknowledged there would be logistical difficulties in having less time to plan a conference championship game, he believed the pros outweighed the cons.

"There's no doubt we may leave some revenue on the table in terms of not playing, guaranteed every year, in a 70,000-seat venue or 90,000-seat venue," Scott said. "From my perspective, the idea of a collegiate atmosphere, a full-house, rewarding the fans that have supported that team every year were higher priorities."

The potential for hosting the game in bad weather was a lesser concern.

"This is football," Crow said. "That was part of the answer also."

There will be no divisions in any other sport, but both men's and women's basketball will adopt an 18-game schedule that will include six home-and-home conference games and four single-play games. These will rotate within a 10-year calendar.

Equal revenue sharing, a conference first, will be effective in 2012 once the conference finishes negotiating aggregated media rights. In years that revenue totals less than $170 million, USC and UCLA will receive a $2 million payout.

The idea of a Pac-12 television network was also popular, but will not be addressed after negotiations take place with incumbent partners.

"We've got not just financial goals ... that could be addressed through a network," Scott said. "I've said all along that one of the main sources of pride for the Pac-10 is our success in Olympics sports, in women's sports in particular, and I think it's critically important for us going forward that we give more exposure for our programs."

Scott expects the 2011 schedules to be available in 30 to 45 days.


Jack Wang covers football. Contact him at [email protected]

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