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Pac-10 football: Utah becomes conference's 12th member

June 17, 2010 |  1:37 pm

Pacific 10 Conference officials extended the offer to Utah to become the conference’s 12th member before a partisan crowd in Salt Lake City on Thursday.

The Utes will join Colorado as the conference’s newest members, giving the conference what Commissioner Larry Scott called "the two most prestigious institutions in the mountain time zone."

The Pac-10 had tried to reach farther east, wooing Texas, which could have led to a 16-team super conference,  with Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Texas Tech coming along with the Longhorns. That plan collapsed when Texas officials decided to accept a lucrative pitch to remain in the Big 12 Conference.

That left Pac-10 officials to secure Plan B, by inviting Utah, which had proved it could compete with BCS football programs in recent seasons. The Utes had undefeated seasons in 2004 and 2008. They defeated Pittsburgh in the 2005 Fiesta Bowl and Alabama in the 2009 Sugar Bowl.

Utah has won nine consecutive bowl games, including victories over USC, Georgia Tech and California, as well as its victories in BCS games against Alabama and Pittsburgh.

"Utah’s success on the football field is well known,” Scott said. “We’re well aware of the 2-0 record in BCS Bowl games."

How this will affect the conference financially remains to be seen. A super conference, with Texas, was expected to draw a television contract that would worth $20-million per school.

Scott said that "adding the Denver and Salt Lake City markets will help us move forward. This will help the Pac-10 with the ambitious and exciting plans we have moving forward."

The Pac-10 Conference’s current television deal expires after the 2011-12 season.

-- Chris Foster

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