by Ralph Routon
As indicated here last week, the University of Colorado will be happy with its football division in the new Pacific 12 Conference starting with the 2011 season.
School presidents for the league, which still officially is called the Pac-10, voted Thursday to divide the expanded conference's football programs into north and south divisions.
Here's the lineup:
South: Southern Cal, UCLA, Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah.
North: California, Stanford, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.
The presidents also decided that teams will play nine league games, allowing the four California schools to play each other every year without interruption (the compromise that comes with forcing them into separate divisions). The other cross-division matchups will rotate.
Colorado had openly pushed to be in the same division with Southern Cal and UCLA, guaranteeing a trip to the Los Angeles area each year, because CU has a strong base of alumni in the L.A. area and also has recruited heavily there.
The divisions, of course, also mean that the Pac-12 will have a conference championship football game starting next year. But for now it will be played at the home stadium of the division champion with the better record, giving the game a better chance to develop fan support. The league also considered putting the title game at a neutral sites, with options including the National Football League stadiums in Phoenix, San Diego and San Francisco.
The alignment means Colorado definitely will face its divisional rivals every year, including Southern Cal and UCLA. Schedule details still haven't been worked out. CU already has nonconference games scheduled for next year against Ohio State, Colorado State, Fresno State and Hawaii, but the Buffaloes will be able to play 13 regular-season games because they will travel to Hawaii (NCAA rules allow teams incurring that expense to play an extra game).