By Scott M. Johnson Herald Writer
SEATTLE — There will eventually be 12 schools in the expanded Pac-10 Conference, but only two of them seemed to matter to University of Washington football coach Steve Sarkisian on Thursday afternoon.
That would be UW and the University of Arizona — this week, anyway.
“We’re playing Arizona Saturday night,” he said Thursday afternoon when asked about the conference realignment that was announced earlier in the day. “We’ll worry about 2011 next year.”
For UW athletic director Scott Woodward, whose job title allows him to be more forward-thinking, Thursday was “a very, very good day for the Pac-10 and the UW.”
Shortly after Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announced a plan to split the expanded, 12-team conference into two divisions and play an annual conference championship football game at the home site of the regular-season champion, Woodward was all in favor of the realignment.
“We’re primarily in position to really get a blockbuster TV deal to … really put us on par going forward with the SEC and Big 10 from a financial standpoint,” he said.
The Huskies will be in a North Division that also includes cross-state rival Washington State as well as Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford and California.
If there is one obvious negative to the realignment, as far as the Washington schools are concerned, it’s that the Huskies and Cougars won’t have the guaranteed trip to Los Angeles every year. That’s the most financially-lucrative market and the biggest recruiting base in the conference.
“Would we like to be in L.A. more? Sure,” Woodward said. “But there is give-and-take in this process. The long-term positive growth of this league, and our individual institutions, is paramount.”
When Sarkisian was asked about the ramifications of recruiting in the L.A. market, the Torrance native shrugged and said: “I’m from L.A. I’ve got a lot of friends there.”
USC, UCLA, Arizona and Arizona State will compete in the South Division along with new teams Colorado and Utah.