The conference-formerly-known-as-the-Pac-10 is about to undergo some major changes. On Thursday afternoon, Commissioner Larry Scott announced the conference's plan to adopt divisions and a title game for the 2010-2011 season. The proposed plan was ratified unanimously by the league's chancellors.
The existing ten teams will be joined by two newcomers: a very capable Colorado team that has already taken down SEC-mainstay Georgia this season, and the No. 9 team in the nation, the Utah Utes. These twelve teams will form the new Pac-12.
The conference will be split into two different divisions, the creatively titled Northern Division and Southern Division. Each division will feature six teams. As it stands, the Southern Division will hold Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Southern California, and UCLA. The Northern Division will be made up of California, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.
The creation of divisions has cleared the way for a lucrative conference title game to be held every December. The winners of both divisions will meet at the home of the team with the best conference record.
"Our key objective was to transform the Pac-10 to a modern 12-team conference that has long-term strength, increased value, competitive balance and is fan friendly and we have done that with these monumental decisions today," Scott declared. "This is truly a historic day for the Pac-12 Conference."
Each school will play all five of their divisional opponents each season, as well as four games against opposition from the opposite conference.
Though, there was substantial debate regarding the split of the California schools. The rivalries between all four schools stem back as far as the 1940s, and the athletic directors felt it was imperative to keep the traditions alive. As a result, both USC and UCLA will be allowed to keep cross-division rivals Stanford and California on their yearly schedules.
The conference will not use the divisional format in any other sport.