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Pac-10 commish out; Boise State in?

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Last week, Pac-10 commissioner Tom Hansen announced his retirement, effective in July 2009. So what? So everything.

Allow us a moment or two of presumptive reasoning chock full of fallacies and baseless hope centered upon the following premise: Tom Hansen’s retirement means Boise State will join the Pac-10. All of a sudden, the retirement of some old guy seems a lot more important.

Here is the simpleton path by which our thought process arrived at this point. At the top of the replacement list for Hansen is WAC commissioner Karl Benson. Presumably, at the top of the Pac-10’s to-do-list is expanding to 12 teams. Ergo, Boise State will be playing in the Pac-10 sooner rather than later.

Naturally, there are several inferences that this reasoning assumes as truths in order to work.

  1. Karl Benson would get the job. Keep in mind that Benson is the man who introduced New Mexico State, Idaho, and Utah State into an already-weak football conference. Benson gained tie-ins to the lucrative Roady’s Humanitarian Bowl, Hawaii Bowl, and another bowl that currently escapes our memory and interest. Benson has not exactly made the WAC better than it was when he took over.
  2. The Pac-10 would actually want to expand. In our heart of hearts, we believe that this is true. However, our heart of hearts is far from a reliable source (see: Gamecube, Mario Tennis). Reasons against expansion: The Pac-10 is doing pretty well for itself with its 10 current teams. The Pac-10 is implicitly named to include 10 teams. The Pac-10 may not love conference championship games as much as TV executives do. The ACC.
  3. Boise State would be chosen over a wide number of deserving schools. Boise, Idaho, home of the $1.99 Carl’s Jr. Famous Star, might not be able to hobnob with the Seattles and Los Angeleses of the Pac-10. The Eugenes and Pullmans? Sure. But the Pac-10 looks at academics, enrollment, grades, and facilities in addition to the obvious sports benefits. Plus, nothing says cheap like a basketball arena named after the home of the double decker taco.
  4. The world would turn out to be a fair, honorable place. Then how might one explain the Hawaii Bowl?
Obviously, a lot of dominoes would have to fall in order for this scenario to play out in tangible places other than our dreams. Then again, all it takes is one domino to topple the rest. Tom Hansen = domino.

We’re not alone in our furtive hopefulness. Real, actual media outlets think the same thing:


Possible replacements for Hansen include Stanford Athletic Director Bob Bowlsby, Western Athletic Conference Commissioner Karl Benson, Mountain West Commissioner Craig Thompson and the former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg. (New York Times)

Two of the top candidates for the job -- WAC commissioner Karl Benson and former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg -- have the personality to sway the league's presidents and would be proactive in pursuing expansion. (Sporting News)

Would Benson be a good fit for the Pac-10? Hansen's old-school. Benson's a creative consensus-builder--he's had to be with the geographical and financial disparity among the WAC's membership in all its various forms. But Benson insists he remains a fit for the WAC, where he's about to become the longest-serving commissioner in the conference's 46-year history. (Tom Scott)
The process for choosing a new commissioner is sure to be long, tedious, and highfalutin. But the out-and-out optimism of living in a new landscape of West Coast football in a year from now is downright thrilling.

And it gets better.

Hansen has been notorious for his distaste of a college football playoff. He and his Rose Bowl are key roadblocks to the furthering of football justice, so with the old man out of the way, might a playoff be on the agenda?

Karl Benson had sure better be on board. No one has more firsthand experience about the kind of impact a small-conference school can have when given an opportunity to play against the big boys. Benson should appreciate that college football deserves to be a land of equality, and we’re confident that he would feel much better about affirming so once he has a cushy job at the head of a power conference. His voice would no longer be the bitter, desperate plea of a WAC commissioner begging for a fair chance. He could declare confidently his feelings on a playoff. Or he could have his intern do it for him.

At the very least, there is serious hope of a bright future for Boise State and small schools across the country. Old people should retire more often.