I was reading this story on Pac 10/12 expansion and thought "they're trying too hard." The original league idea of a North-South split is perfect and everyone can still get what they want. Here's how: follow the lead of the SEC.
Heresy to to the cultural side of some out west I'm sure, but the model now in place here in the South works very well. A few tweaks for a nine game football schedule only enhance what the new Pac 12 wants to do.
First, here are the divisions as initially proposed:
North - Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, Washington State, Colorado, Utah
South - Arizona, Arizona State, USC, UCLA, California, Stanford
The original Pac 8 schools in the north worry that the proposed split will mean less time to recruit in California. The solution lies in assigning each school a permanent opponent from the other division. It makes further regional, not to mention economic and emotional, sense to place the Oregon and Washington schools with the California schools while matching the Arizona schools with Colorado and Utah.
Longstanding conference and border rivalries will be maintained on one hand and created on another. An example of what the individual rivalries could be:
Arizona - Colorado
Arizona St - Utah
USC - Oregon
UCLA - Washington
Cal - Oregon St
Stanford - Wash St
Like the SEC, the inter-divisional rival would be played each year. Since the Pac 12 is likely to keep playing nine league games, the rotation amongst the other schools would occur every four years. Enough people earn a living at scheduling to ensure that the eight schools outside of California are there virtually every season.
The ACC, in my opinion, got it wrong by splitting the way it did. Geography is better for marketing. It's easy to tell the split in the SEC and Big 12. The ACC's "Atlantic" and "Coastal" divisions are still confusing. While attempting to prove a correlation between no BCS titles and misguided divisions would be very difficult, how many of you think it's just a coincidence? (OK, I kid, but only a little.)
As for basketball and the other sports, again, follow the current SEC setups. They work well too. Football will be the driving engine, so just make sure you get that one right from the start.
So, Pac 12, take a southern football fan's advice and follow the lead of the SEC. The model works very well. I know you've got some great schools with smart people, but trust me: keep it simple. North and South, not Pacific and Coastal. That said, Sashimi and Medium Rare could work as divisions. Talk about marketing out west.