With the apparent salvation of a ten-team Big 12 yesterday, the attention of the conference realignment nation turns to Salt Lake City, where the Utah Utes will now be the main focus of speculation...at least until things change about 5 minutes from now.
I'm not sure what we're going to call the Big 12 now, but with Texas & company telling the Pac 10 "no thanks" after Colorado already bolted out west, it leaves the Pac 10 with a very odd 11-team line up. The general consensus is that Utah could join the Buffaloes and become the Pac 10's twelfth team. Obviously, that would not be good news for TCU or the Mountain West Conference.
Is the Utes departure a foregone conclusion? In the atmosphere created in the last few weeks, I don't think anything can be taken for granted. Does the Pac 10 want Utah? If the goal is to get to 12 teams, they would make a lot of sense. But as we've seen with the Big Ten playing with 11 members for the better part of 20 years, some leagues might not go to 12 just to get to 12. Also, don't forget about BYU. Utah is a state school, while BYU is run by the church...which pretty much runs the state of Utah. I wouldn't expect the Cougars to let the Utes bolt without any resistance.
If Utah does end up leaving the Mountain West, this is exactly the reason why the league added Boise State last week. The Broncos are our insurance policy. A 9-team MWC with Boise State instead of Utah is roughly the same conference we have played in for the past 5 seasons. But a 10-team league with both the Utes and Broncos is an upgrade that is likely headed toward BCS inclusion.