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Expansion talk in the Pac-10 has created a stir

Now that BYU and Utah are claiming to know zilch about the Pac-10's plans for expansion, I have one thing to say: Don't be surprised if they know more than they're saying.

Sounds to me like coaches who say "I'm not looking to go anywhere" and then take another job.

Besides, hearing nothing doesn't mean nothing is happening.

It may not be this week, but if the Pac-10 asks Utah to join, the Utes will be out of the Mountain West before you can say "bye-bye."

If I were Utah or BYU, and a BCS conference came calling, I'd leave the MWC without even posting a forwarding address.

Hello, Hollywood. Howdy-do to the Farm. And how cool would it be going back to their old WAC haunts in Phoenix and Tucson?

Sort of brings memories of the days of Marv Bateman and Mike Sojourner, doesn't it?

The reason I'm mostly referencing Utah is because, as far as I can tell, the Pac-10 doesn't want BYU. Not that that the school wouldn't be a nice addition with an impressive fan base and a strong overall athletic program. It's that BYU doesn't fit.

There's no way Cal, Stanford, Oregon and UCLA are going to invite a school as conservative as BYU into their conference. They can dress it up with talk about research institutions and market-sharing and Sunday games, but fact is the league from the Left Coast doesn't want conservative BYU, period.

It makes things too complicated.

But if Colorado goes to the Pac-10 along with Utah, as speculated, BYU could join the Big 12. If I were in charge, I'd kick out Baylor, just because it didn't belong there in the first place. For good measure I'd fill that vacancy with TCU or Houston.

Meanwhile, I figure the Big 12 would be more willing to accommodate BYU and its unique requirements than the Pac-10, anyway. Part of its teams are in the Bible Belt and some of its schools are more conservative than the Pac-10.

A few months ago, before the Pac-10 commissioner admitted this is a good time to look into expansion, I thought building from within was an answer for Utah and BYU. I decided if the MWC could stay the course, it might surpass another automatic qualifying conference, like the Big East. Then there would be no need to argue its way into BCS bowl games. No need to beg to get in another conference, either.

Now I'm saying don't wait — jump! ASAP!

Waiting for the BCS to extend full privileges to the MWC is like waiting for Roger Clemens to admit he took steroids.

Is that a cricket I hear chirping?

BCS bylaws say conferences that get automatic qualifying status are to be evaluated on a four-year cycle. But the computer rankings are a big factor, and they're always skewed against non-qualifying conferences.

The BCS has tipped its hand repeatedly. It pretended to be fair by allowing teams like Utah, Boise State and TCU into BCS bowl games, yet denied them a chance to play for the championship — even when they were undefeated. It also worked out a formula whereby the smaller programs end up with far less money than teams from AQ conferences.

It's a case of discrimination, pure and simple.

This year, both Boise State and TCU were good enough to have a shot at the national championship. And for the first time, two non-AQ teams made it to a BCS game. How was this handled? They ended up playing one another.

The BCS put TCU and Boise off in a corner and told them to go play for a few of hours while the adults took care of business.

Never trust people to do the right thing when the wrong thing makes more money.

I'm still an advocate of a playoff. In lieu of that, I'm an advocate of making sure the best teams play for the title.

Some have suggested if Utah and BYU were in different conferences, it would squash the rivalry. Yet Colorado and Colorado State are still rivals and they aren't in the same conference, nor are Florida and Florida State nor Notre Dame and Southern Cal.

BYU deserves to be in a BCS conference as much as Utah. It is the strongest overall athletic program in the MWC and has the biggest fan base. But that doesn't mean it's leaving for the Pac-10. I'm thinking Big 12. But with its no-Sunday policy, it could still end up a big fish in the same mid-major pond.

On the bright side, there are worse things than adding Boise State as a rival.

e-mail: rock@desnews.com