Posted by Bryan Fischer
LOS ANGELES -- While Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott's newest acquisition, Utah, was warming up on the field of his conference's most storied member, USC, the former tennis executive strolled into the Coliseum press box beaming about the first ever conference game that was to take place a few minutes later.
Then he met a swarm of media interested in just one topic.
"I'd prefer to be less popular," Scott joked after being inundated with questions about conference expansion. "On this topic, we're trying to stay out of the story frankly. Our position hasn't really changed, we haven't been looking for or aspiring to expand since we made the decision on 12.
"If schools are going to leave the Big 12 and there's going to be a paradigm shift, or a landscape change as people like to describe it, we'll go ahead and step back and look at our options, then reconsider."
Scott is just one of the key figures in the ongoing conference realignment saga that has infringed on the start of the college football season. In a nod to the fact that the story seems to change by the day, if not by the hour, Scott couldn't even confirm that he would be running a 12 team league next year.
"I know there will be a Pac-12," he said before cautioning, "I hope there is. The ink is still drying on our new logos and the field paint and uniforms. It's our hope that the world stays the same and we get to enjoy what we've created. I don't think anyone, with how dynamic the situation is, would stick their neck out and say nothing is going to change."
While most of the nation was focused on the thrilling Missouri-Arizona State game Friday night, Scott not only took in the action in Tempe but also discussed issues with the man who has seen several of his teams openly flirt with other conferences, Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe.
"I did speak with Dan yesterday," Scott said. "He was due to be in Tempe but didn't go. So we spoke over the phone and had a nice chat."
Scott already tried to raid Beebe's conference once before. Last summer he tried to boldly add Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State to form a Pac-16 superconference. While he was unsuccessful in fulfilling his goal of adding all six teams - settling for the Buffalos and Utes - he still sees the future of major college athletics as having four, 16-team superconferences.
"I still believe it and I think what's going on is evidence that there's a disparity between certain conferences," he said. "I've been saying that over the past year that there will be more consolidation. I didn't think it would happen so quickly - a year after we expanded - that we'd have so much noise around the issue."
The commissioner did acknowledge that several schools have reached out to him - presumably Oklahoma and Oklahoma State - to gauge interest in the Pac-12 being a popular landing spot. Scott cautioned that there have been no votes nor any formal talks at adding teams to the conference. Given the threats of legal action from schools like Baylor, he chose his words carefully when asked about what could happen over the next few weeks.
"We're not being proactive, we're not trying to initiate any move to conferences beyond 12," said Scott. "I'm trying to be more precise in the language because it's a highly charged situation. People are hanging on every word, I felt that the media was getting a little further out in front of where we actually were, so I have had to be more precise that we're not initiating a move to superconfereces. We are only evaluating anything if other conferences go first."
For now, Scott and Pac-12 will wait. And watch. And listen.
Larry Scott not proactive in conference expansion
Posted on: September 10, 2011 8:50 pm
Edited on: September 10, 2011 9:15 pm