At least that's the message to be inferred from commissioner Larry Scott...
Larry Scott comes across as a forward thinking, bright individual which is pretty remarkable since his first major plan as the Pac-10's commissioner, the Pac-16, ended up DOA.
The conference is expected to have its new divisional plans voted on by the end of the month and, while he doesn't spell it out, it's not hard to guess what Scott would like to see happen.
As told to KJR radio in Seattle:
"From my vantage point, the two most important things thinking about the long term best interest of the conference as a whole is, one, that we have competitive balance between the two divisions. It's not seen that there's a stronger division and a weaker division."
Going into this season that would assume that a simple North-South model wouldn't be favored except that Stanford, Oregon, and the usually dangerous Cal are proving that they could prop up the North quite nicely.
Scott also believes that they'll stick with 9 conference games which in his mind "mitigates" concerns of isolation with Northern teams playing each Southern team 2 out of every 3 years.
His second concern would make it seem as though the North-South model is an even stronger priority over a "Zipper" or some other hybrid arrangement:
"Secondly, that it is fan friendly and that it is easy to understand, simple to follow, and it gives us a chance to build more national profile and following for the conference because people can understand how the divisions are structured and there can be a focus on divisional races leading to the championship football game."
It's not a stretch to consider this a reference to the convoluted mess known as the ACC. The Atlantic Coast Conference tried to get cute with its "Atlantic" and "Coastal" structure by trying to preserve some rivalries within divisions, split up FSU and Miami with the hope they meet again in the title game, and then presented it to a nation that shook its head at the half-baked nonsense that was produced.
View ACC in a larger map
That map is exactly what Scott would like to avoid. No one outside of the southeast follows the ACC races and not just because no one in the ACC makes it out of September without several losses.
I also wouldn't be stunned if the Pac-12 started off by playing its title game at a neutral site. Another lesson learned from the ACC that can't come close to filling a stadium no matter where they put it.
The radio hosts made an assumption that neutral site hosting was automatic by rattling off the cities of Glendale, Seattle, San Diego, and Las Vegas. The assumption was cut off by the commish:
"The first decision we've gotta make is are we going with a neutral site or are we going to go NFL playoff style home field advantage the team earns?"
I'll assume the Pac-12 forgoes short term profit by not having neutral sites bid on the game, but also avoids devaluing the contest long-term by not having half empty venues.
The ACC fanbase is a perfect model for the Pac-12 because of its similar geographic spread and often apathetic fan base. By easing into the new arrangement with one of the team's hosting the title game, the Pac-12 would virtually guarantee itself a sellout and the early buzz it's seeking to generate.
In other words, do everything the ACC didn't do and properly benefit from it.
If I'm wrong, it's because the presidents and chancellors of these universities will screw it up when it comes time to vote, even as they hired this commissioner to help them get out of the dark ages.