The Pac-10's athletic directors wrapped up two days of agenda-setting meetings in San Francisco on Thursday and, not surprisingly, nothing was settled.
Faced with the complex task of creating plans for revenue sharing, divisional alignment and a championship game in football, the athletic directors hashed out the details that will set the foundation for the conference's presidents and chancellors at their meeting on Oct. 21.
"I'm very pleased with how the meetings went," Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said. "I would describe it as significant progress on the important strategic issues we've been debating and I feel good about where we are. In my view, we've narrowed the options and kind of flushed out the pro and cons of different scenarios in a way we hoped we would."
The meetings were never intended to reach any final conclusions, only recommendations for the board as the conference expands to 12 teams next school year with the addition of Colorado and Utah.
The three major, interconnected issues are complex and wide-ranging, each school having its own unique stake in what happens.
Revenue sharing is the marquee issue, whether to continue with the current appearance-based model, which favors USC and UCLA, or to split up the money equally among the 12 schools.
The football championship game appears to be a done deal, but the conference still needs to decide whether to use an NFL-based model where the higher-ranked team plays at home or to hold it at a neutral site like San Diego or Las Vegas.
Finding a way to break the 12 teams into divisions has been a complex task, with schools wanting to make sure they still get to play traditional rivals every year and to play in Southern California.
The conference is looking at several options, from splitting the conference North/South or East/West to a "zipper' model that would split up geographical rivals down the middle and have them play in the season finale.
"There isn't anything final yet," Washington AD Scott Woodward said. "But I think we will find a consensus on that as well."
While the AD meetings didn't produce anything concrete, they were a big step in shaping what will become the Pac-12 next school year. The issues were debated, concerns were raised and addressed and, in some cases, compromises were proposed to keep everyone happy.
"It was a very productive meeting and I think we all got a chance to hear everybody's concerns and feelings," Arizona AD Greg Byrne said. "I think we made a lot of good progress and look forward to the CEOs making long-term decisions for the conference. Obviously, whenever you have issues, there are going to be differing opinions, but I feel real good about the direction we're going."
That direction is toward the board meeting in two weeks, when the schools' presidents and chancellors get the task of reshaping a conference that hasn't expanded since 1978.
The groundwork has been set.
"I believe they'll feel very comfortable finalizing these issues and making clear decisions," Scott said.