What Is Better For Utah, Staying On Top In Mountain West Or Challenge The Pac-10?

With the recent talk about Utah to the Pac-10 the question to present itself would be: is it better for Utah to stay in the MWC that looks to be on track to becoming a BCS league, or jump to the Pac 10?  If Utah stays in the Mountain West and the league becomes the seventh automatic qualifying league it would only be for two years in 2012 and 2013 and not the entire four year cycle.  During those years the league would still be evaluated in order to continue their status.

Utah has a choice they could be one of the top teams in the MWC while garnering that extra cash from the BCS bowl games or go to the Pac-10 where they would somewhat struggle for the first f ew years but have the long term financial stability.

Staying in the Mountain West would mean that just winning the league gets them into a big money game even with a loss or two; which would be a long shot as a non-AQ school.  However, what real look would they have at the national title game unless they started high in the rankings.  Another, reason to be hesitant to stay would be that the BCS would only be guarantying two years of for sure access.  So, the league would still have to consistently put a team in the top 10 and multiple in the top 25 to keep that status.

Now, recruiting would get a bump by all the schools -- most importantly the bottom -- which would help elevate the league to keep the BCS status.  Just look at Cincinnati it took them only a few years to go from a football nothing in C-USA to two Big East titles.  That could happen to Colorado State, UNLV, or San Diego State who have either had great teams or the potential to be great.

Getting back to Utah would it really be better to stay in the Mountain West where they would be the top of the league? They would have an easy time gaining an auto bid because all it would take only to win the league and not have to be perfect.  Money would be better then before which is a plus and there is a good chance that their bowl situation would improve with BCS status since teams would be getting better with the additional resources.  The Utes could stay and be a threat to win the league each year and perhaps sometimes be in the mix for the national title.

Long term the Pac-10 is a must move for the Utes if they are extended an invite.  The reasons start with finances which would be better then the current or even projected money the league would get for being an AQ league.  The bowl games are much better and not having to play the bottom of the Pac-10 or another equally disrespected non-AQ school.

The competitive issue to some would seem to be the biggest hurdle to over come for the Utes, because you see they play in the MWC and get the perceived lesser talent.  That is not necessarily the case, this past weekend in the NFL Draft the Utes had six players drafted.  That was good for a tie with the second most behind USC, Alabama, Florida and Oklahoma, and that was done with two and maybe three star recruits. By moving to the Pac-10 recruits would see that and want to go to Utah where they have a shot at the NFL.  Now, that would take maybe two or three years for those players to be solid contributors, but still higher recruits would roll in.

The current Ute team and the one for the following two seasons would be competitive and would have an outside shot at a title.  The current notion is that when non-AQ schools play those from AQ schools it is a big one time game that they get up for, but playing week to week they would not last.  Utah seems to possibly have separated themselves from that, but are not affected by that.  They most likely could be in the upper middle class until the benefits of joining the Pac-10.  Also, with USC on a down turn and no real Pac-10 king it would be a perfect time for the Utes to become an instant contender. 

Sep. 4 New Mexico             WIN
Sep. 11 at Tennessee          WIN
Sep. 18 Portland State        WIN
Sep. 25 at Arizona State     WIN
Oct. 2 Stanford                   TOSS UP
Oct. 9 at Washington State  WIN
Oct. 23 UCLA                      TOSS UP
Oct. 30 at USC                    TOSS UP
Nov. 6 Washington             WIN
Nov. 13 at California           TOSS UP LEANING LOSS
Nov. 20 Arizona                  TOSS UP
Nov. 27 at Oregon State      TOSS UP LEANING LOSS

This could be a bit on the optimistic, and the only two games that would be considered a loss would be at Cal or Oregon State.  Obviously Oregon is not on the schedule and that would be a toss up since the game would be at Utah since the 2009 game was in Eugene.  Right of the bat Utah could easily be 9-3 in their first year in the Pac-10 if that were in 2010, and even a better record if things go right.   

The Utes would be competitive right away even with their current recruiting base which is not as good being in the Mountain West.   They would not turn into Washington State overnight, but their first few years would put them in the top half of the league at least until they build up their program even more.

If a decision came down to the Utes to be in the Pac-whatever or an AQ Mountain West league they should make the move for a more stable and better future by leaving the Mountain West.

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