LJWorld.com weblogs Big 12 realignment
Pac-10 adds Utah
4:04 p.m. Update:
News out of www.orangebloods.com camp today indicates that Arkansas has put out feelers to the Big 12 about a possible union with the conference.
This, a day after Arkansas officials told reporters that they would not be interested in leaving the SEC.
Our own Tom Keegan wrote in a column on Wednesday that the next logical move for the Big 12 would be to invite Notre Dame and Arkansas to join the league, therein creating a powerful conglomerate.
Keegan's report cited information from a source close to Jerry Jones, the Dallas Cowboys owner who is an Arkansas alum and has interest in the Big 12 as it pertains to Texas and his new, state-of-the-art Cowboys Stadium.
Thursday afternoon, however, Rich Dalrymple, vice president/public relations for the Dallas Cowboys, contacted the Journal-World on behalf of his boss, to issue the following statement:
"Mr. Jones has not been involved in any discussions recently or within the past several months regarding conference realignment in college athletics. He has emphatically and deliberately made all efforts to steer clear of the recent issues involving realignment. Any sources who provide information to the contrary are absolutely incorrect."
3:13 p.m. Update
Just wanted to keep everyone in the loop on the latest with conference realignment.
Left out of the large portion of the Big 12 sweepstakes, the Pac-10 Conference picked up its 12th member on Thursday, as Utah joined Colorado in becoming the newest members of the storied conference.
This announcement closes the book on the crazy realignment — at least in these two powerhouse conferences — that captivated the nation for the past couple of weeks.
As we all know by now, the Big 12 loses Colorado (to the Pac-10) and Nebraska (to the Big Ten) but moves forward with the 10 remaining members. Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State declined invitations from the Pac-10 to remain in the Big 12, making the Pac-10's move to add the Utes a necessity.
Utah, which left the Mountain West, leaves a hole in that conference, which recently made a splash by adding perennial football power Boise State from the WAC.
That leaves the WAC looking to replace Boise and the Mountain West looking to replace Utah. Although the game of conference chess appears to be finished, there's still a pretty heated game of checkers going on at the kids table.
Here's the story from The Associated Press:
SALT LAKE CITY -- The University of Utah accepted an invitation to become the 12th member of the newly expanded Pac-10 Conference on Thursday.
"Today is an absolutely great day to be a Ute," athletic director Chris Hill said before he was interrupted by applause during a news conference.
The room was packed with Utah dignitaries, boosters and dozens of red and white balloon bouquets. University president Michael Young made it official by signing the agreement, bringing another extended round of applause.
The announcement was held at Rice-Eccles Stadium, where the Utes enjoyed two undefeated seasons in the past six years. The Utes received invitations to the Bowl Championship Series in 2004 and 2008, but both were at-large bids. Utah is the first team from a non-BCS conference to reach the premier bowls twice.
"I don't really know if you can compare the two, but there's a lot of the same feelings and a lot of the same excitement going on right now," football coach Kyle Whittingham said.
By joining the Pac-10, the Utes' BCS-busting days are ending. After playing one final season in the Mountain West, Utah will join the Pac-10 -- or whatever the expanded league's name will become -- in 2011. There is a guaranteed BCS spot for the Pac-10 winner, but that will mean getting through a schedule of one of college football's most prominent conferences.
"First and foremost, the reason this has happened is because the athletes that we've had at the University of Utah have worked so hard and done so much to put this program on the map," Whittingham said. "That really is where the lion's share of the credit goes to."
Young noted that the Utes are 7-3 against Pac-10 football teams in the last 10 meetings, including wins over Oregon in 2004 and Oregon State four years later during the Utes' two unbeaten runs to the BCS.
The leap takes the Utes from the Mountain West, where national television appearances are rare, to the major markets of the Pac-10. Hill pointed out that representatives from the Rose Bowl were on hand for Thursday's announcement.
The Utes were the only unbeaten team in 2008, and they didn't get a chance to play in the BCS title game. A rout of Alabama in the Sugar Bowl bolstered Utah's claims of being worthy. The Utes ended up finishing No. 2 in the final AP poll -- the school's highest finish.
The Utes also have strong programs in men's and women's basketball, women's gymnastics that could immediately compete in the Pac-10. In sports like baseball and tennis, the Utes will be making a tremendous leap in competition.