…and Utah makes it a dozen. Pac-10 invite to be accepted

The University of Utah is coming to the Pac-10.  Ho-hum.

The Deseret News in Salt Lake City is reporting that the Pac-10 has extended an invitation to Utah and the school will formally accept it tomorrow in a meeting of the UT Board of Trustees.

After salivating for weeks over the thought of the Pac-10 going to a 16-team conference that includes football traditions like Texas and Oklahoma, the news about Utah comes as a bit of a letdown.  This news comes on the heels of word that Colorado is leaving the Big 12 to join the Pac-10, making it a Pac-12…or some other new name to reflect the addition of two teams.

The move by Utah doesn’t really come as a big surprise, either.  The Utes seemed to make the most sense among a short list of possible invitees that included San Diego State, UNLV, BYU, and Texas Christian.

Utah is not a big market, although nationally it ranks No. 36 DMA and includes somewhere around a million people.  But the addition of the Denver market more than makes up for that.

But, for the Utes, the numbers definitely stack up.  Their decision was made easier by the simple fact that the Pac-10 hauls in about twice as much revenue as their current Mountain West Conference.  The Utes’ annual take from the Pac-10 has been estimated to be between $5-8 million more each year.

And Pac-10 commissioner, Larry Scott, will still pursue the idea of a television network as long as he has 12 teams.  That will mean even more big bucks for each school.

There’s also the opportunity to create a lucrative conference championship, something the Pac-10 couldn’t do, but a Pac-12 can.  The NCAA won’t allow a conference to hold a championship game unless it has at least 12 teams.

Utah has a good academic profile, which the Pac-10 has considered a primary prerequisite for any team joining the conference.  And from an athletic standpoint, the Utes have been very competitive recently in both football and basketball.

So when Utah strolls in for the 2011 season and enables the conference to set up two divisions, who will they likely find in their division?

Geographically, Arizona and Arizona State are the closest to UT.  So those four could be thrown in with the Los Angeles area schools to form a South Division.  Or the four California schools could be left together with the two in Arizona, which would enable Utah and Colorado to play Oregon and Washington schools.

Regardless of how it all shakes out, the arrival of the Utes just doesn’t have that ‘Wow’ factor everyone was anticipating.

But, welcome anyhow.  Until November, that is.

That’s when Utah home games are often covered in snow – as are many of those played in Colorado.

Wonder if the sunny West Coast and desert teams of the Pac-10 thought about that before extending these latest invitations.  Brrrr