Expansion impacts beyond football

At the ASU-Missouri game, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said that, despite the fact that several schools have contacted the conference about expansion, the Pac-12 is happy where they are and do not plan to add any further.

But with the rumors now spreading that Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are both looking to jump ship, it’s possible that we could see 16 teams in the conference sometime in the near future. Of course, it’s all speculation at this point; the consensus is that Texas and Texas Tech are likeliest to join the ranks.

There’s been a lot of talk about how this would shape the football landscape in the Pac-12. But what about the other sports who will be forced to tag along?

We’ll take a look at a few of the sports that will be impacted the most by the changes.

 

Men’s Basketball

Similar to football, the addition of four new teams would add depth to the conference, although it may not add prestige. Texas was a four-seed in the NCAA tournament last year, and is a consistent performer.

A lot of the impact of a larger conference will be dependent on how well the Sun Devils do. If the team has a strong year, it likely won’t matter how deep the conference is.

But if ASU has another year like the 2010-11 campaign, it’ll be that much easier to get lost in the shuffle, especially in a conference that already gets less credit than it deserves.

 

Women’s Basketball

An expansion probably won’t matter here. Let’s face it, this conference is loaded, and with Stanford the target for everyone in the Pac-12, all adding four more teams will do is make Oklahoma and Texas a common travel destination for Sun Devils.

At the same time, OU, Texas and Texas Tech all made the Big Dance. So the conference schedule will still be dangerous. It’ll just be longer.

 

Women’s Soccer

This is one sport where scheduling issues will be a problem. The Sun Devils consistently play two games a week, which is a tough task. Playing twice a week for a whole season is tough even for pro teams, and greatly increases the possibility of injury.

The only way to make a full Pac-16 schedule work without dropping non-conference games would be to make the season longer.

Splitting the conference into two halves would also be a legitimate possibility, although it would be disappointing for ASU if they weren’t able to play the California schools every year. You won’t find a better measuring stick in women’s college soccer than Stanford.

 

Baseball

Adding another national powerhouse in Texas would make for a mouthwatering series, guaranteed every season. Longhorns and Sun Devils across the country would rejoice.

However, like soccer, adding four more series to the schedule would be tough without cutting out non-conference games. A two-division format would be a likely choice.

The Sun Devils are usually a very solid team, so it would be hard for them to be pushed aside because of the new teams. ASU’s reputation is too strong for that.

 

Softball

Oklahoma and Oklahoma State both made the College World Series last season and along with Texas are consistent performers. The Pac-16 would become a kind of softball super conference, which would make the regular season fun but incredibly frustrating.

If the Sun Devils ever struggled, running the conference gauntlet would be murder on their NCAA resume.

If the Pac-16 ever took shape, I’d say the odds of the national champion coming from the conference would be at about 50 percent, every year.

 

Volleyball

There are already six Pac-12 teams in the Top-25 for women’s volleyball. Expansion would mean Texas and Oklahoma, who are also currently ranked, would make it eight.

It’d be another super conference, like softball, but unlike softball, the ASU volleyball team is not a national powerhouse.

A Pac-16 for volleyball would make it very difficult for an ASU team to get noticed nationally, and a conference schedule would not be fun.

Reach the columnist at egrasser@asu.edu

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