Pac-10 athletic directors will meet this week and the conference presidents the following week to deal with the issues of realignment, revenue sharing and where to play the conference championship football game once Colorado and Utah join.
Eleven months ago, in mid-November, a six-way tie for the Pac-10 football title was possible. The way Oregon is playing in 2010, the Ducks might have a six-game lead at that juncture.
This year, the suspense is off the field, and by the end of October there should be resolution on the three key issues arising from the addition of Colorado and Utah:
• Division alignments.
• A rejiggered plan for TV revenue sharing, replacing the one in which participant teams get 32 percent of the cash and non-participants 4.5 percent.
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• Sites for the league-championship football game to start in 2011.
Wednesday and Thursday, league athletic directors are meeting in San Francisco, hoping to arrive at consensus and possibly have some recommendations for an Oct. 21 meeting of the Pac-10 presidents.
It appears that the so-called “zipper” plan — splitting traditional rivals all the way down the coast in separate divisions — is a longshot, because commissioner Larry Scott has urged simplicity. He doesn’t want Stuart Scott bumbling through SportsCenter, unsure of whether California and USC are in the same division.
While the popular assumption puts the Northwest schools with the two new ones, there’s a recent push to align the Northwest with the Bay Area schools, while promising the California schools that they’ll meet each year.
That has its own pitfalls, thanks to an obscure NCAA requirement that all schools within a division must meet annually. So the Pac-10 would need a waiver, and the speed for obtaining that might dictate its course.
Conversations with league administrators pose this strong possibility for revenue-sharing: While it seems obvious USC and UCLA are doomed in that campaign — they need four votes total to stave it off — there might be enough sympathy among the share-the-wealth set to delay it for two to four years or have a graduated formula before it kicks in.
Meanwhile, regarding the title-game site, two factors seem to point to campuses rather than a neutral venue, at least initially. First, Colorado’s 2011 inclusion just took place, so stadium rental would have to happen on short notice. And Scott is determined that the game be played in front of a full house, hardly a certainty in Glendale, Ariz., or San Diego.
Aside from the obvious issues, the dynamics of the two meetings pose fascinating questions:
• In a league that traditionally has had some de facto demarcation between LA and the “outsiders,” does the majority simply shove equal revenue-sharing down the throats of the two, or finesse the process?
• How much presidential voice will there be in two weeks, when the heavy lifting is mostly done? And who will speak loudest? Presidents at Oregon, Washington and USC — any of whom might have led a fight — have moved on in the past two years, leading to an uncertain transition in this melodrama.
Bud Withers: 206-464-8281 or firstname.lastname@example.org