UNLV has plenty to offer

Last month when I wrote about the possibility of the Pacific-10 Conference expanding and how that might impact the Mountain West, UNLV wasn’t mentioned by name.

If that dog ever hunts — I’m in the minority predicting it doesn’t, because it’s hard enough to get two college presidents, much less 10, to agree on anything — Utah and Colorado are the ones being mentioned most often if there’s going to be a Pac-10 football championship game sponsored by Dr Pepper. Even if the Big Ten becomes the Big Fifteen and Northwestern, triggering a huge conference-reconstruction domino effect, there won’t be much need for golden retrievers or Portuguese water dogs in the Southern Nevada desert, at least not according to the media and other insiders.

The Rebels simply aren’t qualified, say 99 percent of those who have written or spoken on the topic since Larry Scott, the new Pac-10 commissioner, let this 12-team idea out of a 10-team bag during a teleconference in February.

Well, Lyle Lovett wasn’t qualified to marry Julia Roberts, either.

Just because we can’t beat UNR in football, are we going to let a bunch of tree huggers from Stanford tell us we’re not sponge-worthy?

Instead of Elaine Benes, UNLV should take its cue from Sarah Palin. It should not sell itself short, despite the perceived shortcomings. It should write down all the reasons the Pac-10 should consider it on the palm of its hand.

Ties-win parlay cards. Penn & Teller. Shrimp cocktails at the Golden Gate that cost 99 cents. Decent basketball team … and so forth.

Mayor Oscar Goodman should then show up for Pac-10 football media day at the Sheraton Gateway LAX with a showgirl on both arms, like he did at the winter baseball meetings a couple of years ago and any other time he is trying to drum up business, sporting or otherwise, for Las Vegas.

Catch you later, Jacquizz Rodgers. This old guy from Las Vegas just arrived with a giant martini, a couple of fabulous babes and Cirque du Soleil tickets. Have to see what this is about.

Nobody in any official capacity is saying much about expansion, mostly because the Pac-10 does not want to be viewed as a home wrecker, and any potential blushing brides it might be courting don’t want to appear too eager to annul their marriages to happily wed a BCS sugar daddy until death or Lane Kiffin’s offense do them part.

That is considered bad form and explains why the Mountain Westies met in secret at the Denver airport 12 years ago to form a league of their own, leaving Western Athletic Conference commissioner Karl Benson holding an empty bag as well as his back, from an ugly knife wound.

"I don’t think there are any disadvantages," UNLV athletic director Jim Livengood said, speaking from an outsider-looking-in viewpoint about joining a Bowl Championship Series conference. But having sat at the Pac-10 expansion table more than once during his long tenure at Arizona, Livengood is skeptical about these expansion rumors, if not the motive behind them.

Against the current economic backdrop, "If you’re not talking about expansion, you would appear to be archaic," the UNLV AD said.

While the Pac-10 presidents will consider many factors, money talks and everything else walks like an E*TRADE baby when it comes to expansion. Natural rivalries and 11-2 football teams and hoity-toity academic research programs are admirable, give alumni something to crow about and might even be tied to the bottom line, indirectly. But when push comes to shove, expansion will be tied to the bottom line, directly, and TV sets will be the umbilical cord.

If you’ve got enough of them to entice CBS and ESPN, enough of them to offset what it will cost to divide a financial pie 12 ways instead of 10, you might have a shot at a Pac-10 membership card.

A source said any school not currently playing ball in a top-50 market need not apply. Denver (Colorado) is 16th in Designated Market Area (DMA). Salt Lake City (Utah) is 31st. Las Vegas is 42nd.

Excuse me, Mr. Scott. Where do we pick up one of those application forms?

Las Vegas Review-Journal columnist Ron Kantowski can be reached at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352.

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