It's not totally out of the question that either BYU or Utah could be considered a candidate for the Pac-10. After all, the conference has added teams from the WAC before.
The last time the Pac-10 officially expanded was 20 years ago this month, July 1978. And, curiously enough, it grabbed a pair of WAC schools, Arizona and Arizona State."They were two of our glamour girls," remembered former BYU athletic director Glen Tuckett. "There was quite a bit of disappointment (throughout the WAC) when it happened. But it was a good move for them. They moved to what they felt was a more prestigious situation. It was a good fit for them to join other warm-weather schools."
Tuckett also attributed the jump to what he calls "The Rose Bowl Syndrome" - the desire to compete on college football's greatest stage. While ASU has played twice in the Granddaddy of them all, Arizona is still looking for its first appearance in the New Year's Day bowl game.
Some argue that the two Arizona schools suffered mightily as they tried to adapt to the more competitive Pac-10. Others subscribe to the "rising tide raises all ships" theory. They argue that going to the Pac-10 and struggling at first ultimately helped them become the programs they are today.
Clearly, though, the WAC's loss of ASU and Arizona was BYU's gain. "It was a golden 20 years for us," Tuckett said. "We received more notoriety in football than ASU has over the years. By staying where we were, we were a big fish in a medium-sized pond." The Cougars, of course, won a national championship in football and have a display case full of WAC trophies.
As for ASU and Arizona, those ancient WAC days have pretty much been expunged from their collective memory banks. For those schools, their athletic histories might as well have started in 1978.
But Wiles Hallock remembers. His roots in both the WAC and Pac-10 run deep, and when it comes to switching from the WAC to the Pac-10, he has first-hand experience. Prior to becoming the WAC commissioner for a brief period, he was the sports information director at Wyoming for 12 years. Later, he moved to the Pac-10, where he served as commissioner from 1971-1983.
Hallock helped facilitate the raid of the Arizona schools. "ASU wanted a larger puddle to play in," he said. "(Former ASU football coach) Frank Kush recruited a lot of California kids and he wanted to come out West, to enhance their recruiting. Because of their climate and facilities, it made sense for both of us."
Yet he recalls that not everybody agreed about that originally. "The president of Southern Cal was opposed to ASU coming into the Pac-8. He didn't feel it was right academically. It was ridiculous, really."
Hallock says the Arizona schools joining the Pac-10 was "inevitable." Both schools had been scheduling Pac-8 schools for years, especially in football.