It's always interesting looking back at the events and seeing how it played out over time.
It was obviously an emotional roller coaster for Ute fans because a great deal of us got our hopes up at the start and watched as everything almost seemed lost - until last week.
Now we're a member of the Pac-10. But how'd we get here? Timeline after the jump!
July 7th, 2008: I originally made the case for Utah as a potential Pac-10 candidate. I readily admitted the prospects of Pac-10 expansion seemed unlikely at the time.
The expansion talk recently can't be avoided any longer and while the prospects of Utah joining the Pac-10 -- let alone the conference expanding -- is slim, I thought I would at least entertain the thought. Because I believe, outside of my clear bias, Utah has a solid case for one of the probable two slots that would become available if the Pac-10 were to expand.
But the case I made, I felt at least, was a strong one. Could I imagine two years later the invite would come? No way.
June 11th, 2009: Essentially a year after my initial post about Pac-10 expansion, I took a far more defensive tone in suggesting the conference was cutting off its nose to spite its face when it came to not expanding. This was shortly after news leaked the conference would not entertain the idea of expanding.
I felt it was the wrong move then because the conference was falling behind the SEC, Big Twelve and even the Big Ten.
It doesn't help because the other Pac-10 programs outside of USC just don't have the clout at the national table to bring the needed respectability to the conference. So when the Trojans do lose a game, they're instantly removed from the national championship picture, even though an SEC or Big 12 team is still well-positioned after their first loss.
The interesting thing here is the Trojans kind of fell off the map during the subsequent season. However, prior to their struggles at the end of 2009, they dropped a tough game at Washington and it appeared, at the time, to derail their championship hopes. Had SC rebounded after that loss and gone undefeated the remainder of the way, I suspect they might have still been left out of the national championship picture.
That was my point overall. With the Big Ten then taking Nebraska, which I don't think anyone saw a year ago, the Pac-10 had really no choice but to expand. Which, oddly enough, came almost a year to the day of my article - as the P-10 invited Colorado on the 10th of June.
February 8th, 2010: As the football offseason kicked into gear, speculation returned about the Pac-10 potentially looking to expand. Larry Scott was the first Pac-10 commissioner in a long, long time to openly discuss the potential of expansion. Even a local news station here in Salt Lake City picked up on the story and began pushing the idea that Utah to the Pac-10 was imminent.
It seemed, at least at the moment, we were on the verge of some major news.
February 9th, 2010: The story blew up and it looked more and more likely Utah would receive an invite to the Pac-10 by no later than spring.
February 11th, 2010: I boldly said the Pac-10 would expand. In that article, I laid out what generally happens when a conference expands by using Texas Christian as an example. I then ended it with this:
If that is the case, the Utes might officially be a member-in-waiting of the Pacific Ten (Twelve) Conference by the beginning of spring. Which means that it is very likely Utah will be playing in their final season as a Mountain West team.
Of course, if nothing comes of this, at least it will provide a wild ride.
Let the games begin...
Okay. So Utah wasn't an official member-in-waiting of the Pac-10 by the beginning of spring (it was the end of spring). But it was a wild ride. And Utah is now getting ready for their final season as a Mountain West team.
That same day, I also speculated expansion hinged on Colorado. I've got to believe had everything gone down the way it did and Colorado ultimately rebuked the P-10's offer, expansion does not happen.
February 12th, 2010: The next day, I discussed how I felt comparing Utah to the Arizona schools was wrong.
So no, I do not believe the Utes would be destined for Washington State-like status among the Pac-10 if they were to make the switch. If anything, I believe the consistency they have shown in a very diverse and talented Mountain West would be similar to what they see in the Pac-10 (not dominant, yet consistent enough to contend for ten-wins and a conference championship almost every year).
Then news dried up. We went the rest of February, all of March and almost the entire month of April before hearing anything on the expansion front.
April 20th, 2010: Toward the end of April, Colin Cowherd said his sources put Utah in the Pac-10. Even going as far as to say he felt Utah would be a member soon.
Once again, news kind of dried up. Then the bombshell.
June 3rd, 2010: By this point, a great deal of Ute fans took the non-news as evidence something was not going to happen anytime soon. Remember, the original leak said Pac-10 expansion by early spring and now we were almost to the point of summer.
There were rumors amongst Ute fans of a June 11th date, but that was neither confirmed or reiterated as the months passed.
Then the third came and all hell broke loose when it was announced the Pac-10 was going after six Big 12 schools.
At that point, most Ute fans came to the realization their dreams of playing in the Pac-10 were all but gone.
Then I got all drama queen when discussing the pending Apocalypse.
June 6th, 2010: Three days later and it already seemed the Pac-16 was falling apart. In that article, I laid out scenarios where Utah could find itself with a Pac-10 invite.
Nebraska and Missouri decide to stick around. The Big 12 does not collapse and the Pac Ten is back to the situation they were prior to the events last week (most certainly again looking at Utah and Colorado).
Okay, so I was wrong about Nebraska...
June 9th, 2010: Nebraska bolts for the Big Ten. Most took this as proof the Big 12 was dissolving. I was off when I said the conference was surely dead if they did leave.
This will impact Utah namely because we had all hoped they would find a spot in the newly formed Pac 12. That is unlikely to happen if the Big 12 collapses. So the next step, of course, would be to create a mega-conference of our own - most likely with B12 leftovers. That is if they want to play in the Mountain West.
Who knows where Utah would've stood if the Big 12 had collapsed...
June 10th, 2010: Colorado jumps ship and joins the Pac-10. I believed, in the wake of Nebraska leaving, the Big 12 was dead.
Ultimately, when the smoke clears, we'll have a better picture. But right now, it's looking like the best case scenario is a Mountain West with Big 12 scraps and hopefully BCS inclusion. And like I said, that's the best case scenario.
But I did offer up some new scenarios on how Utah could get a Pac-10 invite...
- Texas and its Big 12 comrades decide to keep the conference intact. This would essentially put the kibosh on a sixteen team Pac Ten conference and since they've already invited Colorado, they'd probably look to Utah to make it twelve.
They ultimately did.
June 11th, 2010: Boise State joins the Mountain West.
June 12th, 2010: Texas A&M looks at the SEC, opening the window for Utah in the Pac-16.
June 14th, 2010: News that Texas is trying to save the Big 12 hits. It looks more and more likely as the day progresses. And by the end of the day, it officially lives. Rumors also suggest Utah has informed the Mountain West of their intentions to leave.
June 16th, 2010: Utah is officially invited to the Pac-10. We begin to celebrate.
June 17th, 2010: Utah accepts the Pac-10's offer, announcing they'll join in 2011.
And that's that. The wild timeline from the initial doubt of ever seeing the Pac-10 expanding, even though we all hoped, to it actually happening.
It was a wild ride...