Recently, the Pac-10 announced it would explore conference expansion. Tied to this were negotiations for a new TV deal, and perhaps an exclusive station (a la Big Ten Network). This news comes on the heels of the Big 10 announcing it will expand to 12 (or more) teams in the next 18 months.

Lots of speculation has emerged about potential additions. However, many of the popular mentions, like Hawaii, wouldn’t add much to the conference in terms of prestige or audience.

The Pac 10 should be focusing on solid academic institutions that would attract new media markets to Pac 10 events. What school would be the biggest win for the Pac 10? Texas!

University of Texas is the #47 school on the US News and World Report top universities list, among the highest of any school in the running for Pac 10 annexation. It’s academic and athletic reputation is superb. It would open up the entire state of Texas (and Oklahoma as well) to the new “Pac 10 Network” and would increase the price ESPN and others would pay to televise events.

It would also be a win-win. Similarly, it would open up Texas to the entire West Coast. Texas could keep its rivalry games with Texas schools and Oklahoma, but add tremendously exciting match-ups. Can you imagine how big the annual USC – Texas game would be?

The Big 12 is a dying conference. The Big 10 will soon steal Missouri away, becoming the “New Big 12″ and relegating the existing Big 12 to “Big 11″ status. Let’s not forget as well – the Big 12 has “big-name” schools like Iowa State and Baylor. Those sound like good Mountain West schools. Along with the Big East, the Big 12 makes up the lowest rung of “BCS Conferences.” The Pac 10 gives Texas its chance to escape.

Other schools don’t have the academic record, media markets, or cachet as Texas. Colorado would be a solid 2nd choice (and nice companion to Texas), bringing the Denver market into the fold.

However, all California schools would be a waste of space. The UC schools don’t add any additional media markets the Pac 10 doesn’t already dominate. Utah and Nevada schools (BYU, Utah, Nevada, and UNLV) would be slightly better, but the Pac 10 would already get ample TV time there.

Go big or go home. It’s time to draft Texas into the Pac 10.

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