Utah bolts Mountain West Conference for Pac-10

Once the Pac-10 Conference lost out on the chance to acquire Texas, Oklahoma and three other Big 12 South schools, it seemed only a matter of time before it turned to Plan B and went after Mountain West member Utah.

That time has come.

Utah is on its way to the Pac-10, a Mountain West Conference source said Tuesday night. The source did not want to be named because an official announcement has not been made.

Comcast SportsNet in the San Francisco Bay Area reported a formal announcement would be made today.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told The Denver Post that no agreement with the Utes has been reached. Utah spokeswoman Liz Abel told The Salt Lake Tribune that there was “nothing new to report.”

Mountain West spokesman Javan Hedlund said he wasn’t aware of an agreement.

Utah’s departure has been predicted since the five Big 12 South schools turned down Pac-10 invitations Monday. The Pac-10 added Colorado last week to reach 11 members, and Utah had long been rumored as a candidate to join the Pac-10.

Adding the Utes gives the Pac-10 the required 12 schools to be able to play a conference football championship game.

It was uncertain when Utah would begin play in the Pac-10, but it will probably occur in the 2011-12 academic year. That is when Boise State joins the Mountain West from the Western Athletic Conference.

Utah and Boise State each have two Bowl Championship Series victories in recent years. Utah won the Fiesta and Sugar bowls, and both of Boise State’s victories were in the Fiesta.

The Mountain West hopes Boise State will help it become an automatic BCS conference. Utah, meanwhile, leaves for a BCS league and the chance to show it can compete against such competition on a weekly basis.

The Utes went 13-0 in 2008, beating Alabama 31-17 in the Sugar Bowl, but did not win the national championship. The argument against the Utes was that they played in a lesser conference.

As for the Mountain West, it will remain a nine-member league, barring some unexpected development such as further expansion or the loss of more schools to other conferences. But expansion nationwide appears to be at a standstill for now.

Contact reporter Mark Anderson at or 702-387-2914.


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