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A new Pac-10 and WSU


COUGARS

Let’s see. I take a day off to play golf – one of the members of our scramble group not only missed a hole-in-one by an inch (I took pictures) he also rolled in birdie putt from the neighborhood of 70 feet but, alas, we did not win – and the entire world – read, Pac-10 expansion – falls apart. My bad. Before we big adieu to the PaC-16 (motto: “The C is for Texas”), let’s look at what the news means for Washington State. And, by the way, we have some hoop news. For more, read on.

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• Now that the bid for a super conference seems to be dead – though nothing is ever over until it’s over – we thought it would be a good idea to look at what the Pac-11 (or Pac-12 if it pans out like it should) means for Washington State.

• Money: Well certainly not as much as the PaC-16 would have, but heck, if the reconstituted Big 12 (with only 10 members and four major TV markets) is worth somewhere in the $15 to $24 million range, then the new Pac-12 (OK, we’re going to call it that because 11 seems like a bad number to stop at), with Los Angeles, Phoenix, Seattle, Denver, San Francisco and possibly Salt Lake, should be able to get into that neighborhood. Unless, of course, there is something strange going on in the background. But right now all we have to use for a base is the numbers the Big 12 promised in order to keep Texas and the others in the fold. We’ll translate that conservatively toward the Pac-12. Let’s say the conference is able to bump up the total outlay to members (TV, bowl revenue, basketball, football playoff) to just around $12 to $15 million. That would be a big deal for a school like Washington State, where, right now, any bit helps. Unless, of course nothing changes in the …

• Unequal distribution of funds: When it comes to revenue, the Pac-10 isn’t a true democracy like the Big Ten. On the high end, USC will have received more than $11 million in conference payouts in 2009-2010, while WSU will bring up the rear at less than $7 million. But that might be about to change. Athletic director Bill Moos and others are going to push for a more equitable formula with the arrival of the new conference members and, with USC in its weakest position ever, there might be a pretty good shot at making changes. But the television money isn’t the only item that will be brought up. Take Apple Cup revenue (and this is just being used as an example of the many financial arrangements in the conference). When the Huskies travel to Pullman, they take home about $240,000. When WSU travels to Seattle, it returns with about $800,000. Such a variance probably will have to be discussed as well. But in the end, a more equitable distribution would not only help the financial lower end of the conference but would make the entire product better.

• Alignment: A north/south split isn’t going to work for WSU, UW or the Oregon schools. There has to be some sort of “zipper” concept, with each rival (WSU and UW, for example) in opposite divisions but guaranteed to play each year. If the Pac-12 goes to eight conference games (as seems to be the case) each school would play its division members, then its rival and two other schools – one road, one home – from the other division on a rotating basis. Say it splits this way: UW, Oregon State, Cal, USC, Arizona and Colorado in one division, WSU, Oregon, Stanford, UCLA, ASU and Utah in the other. Under this arrangement, each non-California school could still have one football game each year in the state. If you played three divisional games at home, two of the crossover games (including the rivalry) would be on the road and vice-versa. Add in four non-conference games, which raises the probability of more wins, may of the conference schools (read, WSU) might actually see an easier path to six wins and a bowl.

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• I know you might have thought of some other expansion questions to discuss, so go ahead and ask. I’ll try to figure out the answers. But let’s turn our eyes on basketball for just a moment. There have been some reports that former Fresno State (and Rainier Beach High) guard Mike Ladd has decided to transfer to WSU, will redshirt and take a scholarship next season. That’s half-right. The 6-foot-5 Ladd has told the coaching staff he intends to enroll at WSU but he is not going to be on scholarship. He’ll walk on. When he’s eligible in 2011-12, he’ll have two years of eligibility remaining. Ladd, who announced he was transferring from FSU in May, averaged 10.3 points a game last year for the Bulldogs, shooting 39.1 percent from beyond the arc on a team-high 169 attempts. … There is still one scholarship available for next year, but it might be used by freshman-to-be Kevin Noreen. The 6-10, 190-pound Noreen, from Minnesota, averaged 38.6 points, 16.5 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 3.2 blocks last season, playing in a small-school division. He signed with Boston College in the fall, but was let out of his letter-of-intent when coach Al Skinner was fired. He was in Pullman over the weekend, meeting with the coaching staff, but is still looking at a large number of schools, including Washington, Marquette, Providence and Northwestern, all of whom he has reportedly visited. No matter where he goes, he won’t be signing a letter-of-intent. Only one per recruit.

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• That’s all for now. We’ll be back as events warrant. Until then …


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