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What others are saying: Utah says it'll join Pac-10 Conference

LOS ANGELES — The questions now facing Pacific 10 Conference Commissioner Larry Scott will be more along the lines of "what's next?" instead of "who's next?"

The University of Utah on Thursday officially accepted an invitation to join the Pac-10, giving the conference 12 teams and prompting Scott to declare "we're done" when asked about further expansion.

A name change, a decision on internal alignment and the pursuit of a television network would be the next steps.

The name change would occur "relatively soon," Scott said. Whether the schools will also be divided into divisions, setting up a potentially lucrative football championship game, will be taken up sometime after that.

With the additions of Utah and Colorado, Scott believes a big payday is in store once the conference's television contract expires following the 2011-12 season.

"Adding Denver and Salt Lake City to the markets we already have will help us as we move forward in pursuing media opportunities and other opportunities," Scott said.

The first-year commissioner had chased an even more ambitious idea — a 16-team conference that would have included Texas, Oklahoma and other Big 12 Conference transplants. But those plans were scuttled earlier this week.

So Scott fell back on Plan B, offering a spot to Utah, which will join the Pac-10 for the 2011-12 seasons. Colorado is scheduled to join the conference in the fall of 2012.

Utah was "the right fit academically and athletically," Scott said, and the Utes have certainly polished their football resume in recent seasons. Utah had undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2008, beating Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

The Utes have won nine consecutive bowl games, including victories over California, Georgia Tech and USC, all Bowl Championship Series conference teams. Utah left the Mountain West Conference, which was not affiliated with the BCS.

"Utah's success in football is well known," Scott said. "We're well aware of the 2-0 record in BCS bowl games."

Where Utah and Colorado will fit within the Pac-10 structure is already generating speculation.

The Denver Post reported that Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn said his university had been guaranteed placement in a division with USC and UCLA.

"There's a process we'll go through now, working closely with our athletic directors to dig into those questions, whether to have a (championship) football game and whether to have divisions," Scott said.