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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Pac-16 bad news for Wildcat football

Over the past seven years, Mike Stoops has transformed Arizona football from a Pacific 10 Conference bottom feeder to one of the Pac-12’s most exciting teams.

After falling short of the postseason from 1999-2007, the Wildcats have now been to three consecutive bowl games and, at least in Tucson, that number is expected to grow to four this season.

Stoops has built a competitive program from scratch, and athletic director Greg Byrne is developing Arizona football’s brand while upgrading facilities along the way.

But if the rumors of Texas, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech joining the Pac-12 come to fruition, Arizona is essentially back to square one.

The Wildcats are currently attempting the leap from good to great in the Pac-12, but adding four new teams (three of which are considered football powerhouses), would keep Arizona mired in mediocrity.

The Wildcats’ rise to the top of competition would be put on hold. That uphill climb Stoops embarked on back in 2004 would come to a screeching halt and the Wildcats would have to find a new way to separate themselves, as there would be simply too many good programs, too many talented recruits and too much financial backing for them to compete with.

As Stoops said at his Monday press conference, there’s already enough competition with No. 6 Stanford, No. 13 Oregon, USC, ASU and now Utah. The Wildcats already struggle to hang with the top tier-schools of the Pac-12, so what would happen if the Longhorns, Sooners and Cowboys were thrown in the mix?

Sure, adding such college football juggernauts would put the Pac-12 (or Pac-16) up there with the Southesastern Conference in terms of competitiveness in the NCAA’s most profitable sport. Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott’s project would finally come full circle and his conference could be one of the most profitable in all of college football.

Scott says the equal revenue sharing model would remain the same, and Texas’ Longhorn Network would merge with Pac-12’s current TV deal. While all of that is fine and dandy, that still doesn’t help the Wildcats compete on the field.

It still doesn’t hide that three superior programs would bump the Wildcats down the conference totem pole that they’ve been working so hard to ascend.

Although he might not admit it, Stoops has to be crossing his fingers that the Pac-12 remains the Pac-12 and so Arizona has an outside chance at making the Rose Bowl they’ve still never tasted.

While players always seem to welcome challenges, it would be ignorant to say the Wildcats would want three powerhouses to stand in their way of success.

“I think it should be more spread out. If you put tougher teams in one big schedule it wouldn’t be exciting for college football. I don’t think,” said cornerback Trevin Wade. “I like to see more conferences and then at the end see what they can do.”

Albeit half-jokingly, Stoops said it best on Monday when he called the Pac-16 scary, “especially if you don’t have a long-term contract.”

The Wildcats are one of those teams, and while the rich would remain rich (Oregon, Stanford, Texas, Oklahoma State, etc.) the middle-class teams like Arizona would be sent toward poverty.

So while the Pac-16 is an intriguing challenge, the Wildcats should pray the conference remains the same so they can continue trending upward toward that coveted Rose Bowl appearance they’ve been longing for.

— Mike Schmitz is a marketing senior. He can be reached at

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