Pac-12 divisions announced – California schools will split

California captains' Chris Guarnero, Cameron Jordan, Mike Mohamed and Kevin Riley and USC captains watch referee Jack Folliard tosses a coin before the game against USC at LA Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles, California. USC defeated California, 48-14. Photo via Newscom

When the Pac-10 officially becomes the Pac-12 next year the conference will have two divisions and the California schools will be split.

UCLA, USC, Arizona, Arizona State and newcomers Utah and Colorado will be in one division, while Stanford, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State will be in the other.

The conference needed the split in order to generate a “lucrative” title game in December, but it won’t make some traditionalists happy. Cal and USC have played every year since 1929, while Cal has played UCLA each season since 1933. Stanford has also played UCLA and USC every year since 1946.

Count USC athletic director Pat Haden as someone who doesn’t like how the new divisions are structured.

“I told [the rest of the athletic directors] my alumni will kill me if we don’t play the Northern California schools,” Haden said a week ago when word of the alignment leaked out.

“I proposed a 5-2-2 model that has us playing the five schools [in our division] every year and then have the Northern California schools as part of our regular two and then rotate the other two. We need to play Stanford and Cal.”

Haden’s proposal is pretty sound and it would satisfy those who were opposed to expansion because it’ll keep with the tradition that the conference has maintained over the past however many decades.

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At what expense will realignment come for college football?

I had a buddy in college that routinely would engage me in the debate over what was “better”: Pro or college football.

He loved college, I loved pro. Nobody ever won the debate and nobody ever will because it’s all a matter of opinion. But there we were, often hammered after too many adult beverages arguing the same points over and over again.

Two of the things he used to argue in favor of college football were rivalries and tradition. He used to shove those two points so far down my throat that he often had to perform the Heimlich Maneuver just so I could start breathing again.

I read today in the Houston Chronicle that Texas and Texas A&M might not play each other on an annual basis anymore if the Longhorns bolt the Big 12 for either the Pac-10 or Big Ten, and if the Aggies leave for the SEC.

So much for rivalries and tradition.

Texas belongs in the Big Ten like mayo belongs on an American hamburger. While it would be fun and exciting to watch the Longhorns play on a cold December day in Columbus, college football was built on its traditions. UT is supposed to play A&M and Oklahoma every year, just like Ohio State is supposed to play Michigan, Alabama is supposed to play Auburn, and Army is supposed to play Navy. Those rivalries and traditions are what make college football, college football.

The novelty of realignment may be fun, but in the end it’s just that: a novelty. Here’s hoping the Big 12 doesn’t fall apart like a deck of cards over the next couple of months.

Novelties wear off. Rivalries and tradition last forever.

Photo from fOTOGLIF

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