Most of the expansion talk on the West Coast has focused on the Pac-10 luring Colorado away from the Big 12, but there's increasing evidence that the Pac-10 and Big 12 also are interested in a potential partnership.
Big 12 and Pac-10 administrators and athletic directors met Wednesday in Phoenix, and afterwards Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott used terms like "strategic alliance" and "pooling TV rights" and "joint network."
None of it sounded terribly adversarial.
Both conferences' media contracts expire after the 2011-12 academic year. Both want -- need -- to sign new contracts that help them keep pace with the SEC and Big Ten.
That might take some creativity, though a rebounding economy should help the cause. There are plenty of reasons the conferences could work together, starting with geography: They are the only two BCS conferences entirely located west of the Mississippi River. It would be easier for the Pac-10 to partner with a conference in the Mountain and Central time zones, rather than one that's entirely in the East, such as the ACC.
Moreover, Scott's No. 2, deputy commissioner/chief operating officer Kevin Weiberg, is a former Big 12 commissioner. Not to mention that new Arizona athletic director Greg Byrne is the son of Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne, who used to be athletic director at Oregon.
So there are grounds to build trust during what could be complicated negotiations.
Scott and Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe huddled for several minutes after a long afternoon meeting on Wednesday. It may have been only one of many future negotiations between the two.
This comes a bit late for Oklahoma, but the Pac-10 is considering no longer using conference officials for nonconference home games, which would reduce controversy when homer, er, bad calls are made and would fall in line with other BCS conferences. Understand: Nothing is official until a proposal is ratified by the conference during June meetings.
As part of a more aggressive marketing effort, the Pac-10 will hold a bi-coastal preseason "media day" in late July. The first day would be in New York, the second at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena on July 29. Previously, Pac-10 media day was a one-day event in a LA airport hotel.
Football travel squads may enlarge from 64 to 70, which falls in line with what other BCS conferences allow.
Scott said that the NCAA's new, controversial "no taunting rule," which is scheduled to be adopted in 2011, was a hot topic. The new rule would make taunting a live-ball foul and the penalty would be assessed at the point of the infraction, which means it could kill a touchdown. "There's some concern about that from our coaches," Scott said. I bet.
The Pac-10 coaches and ADs also met with officials from the Alamo Bowl, the conference new No. 2 bowl -- replacing the Holiday Bowl, which is now No. 3 -- as well as BCS executive director Bill Hancock.