Stanford football coach Jim Harbaugh favors the idea that his team could play the same team twice in a season.
"I'd be all for that," he said, leaving it at that.
The idea, of course, is it means the Cardinal would be one of the two teams in the newly-introduced Pac-12 Conference championship game.
The new conference approved football divisions that will split the California schools and adopted an equal revenue-sharing plan Thursday as the league presidents and chancellors hashed out the important issues that arose because of recent expansion.
With Colorado and Utah planning to join the Pac-10, changes were needed for when the league becomes a 12-team conference next July 1. That was accomplished by forming two football divisions that maintain traditional rivalries, creating the first-ever Pac-12 football championship game.
The conference also introduced schedule models for all other sports and agreeing to move to an equal revenue sharing plan for the first time in its history.
"There was a lot of pushing and shoving during the course of these negotiations," Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby said. "We were all trying to do what was best for the conference but also represent our individual institutions. Our perspectives weren't always exactly the same but we worked our way through the issues."
The league decided to split the California schools, with Stanford and Cal playing in the North Division with Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State. UCLA and Southern California will be in the South with Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Colorado.
The conference also announced that the Bay Area schools, who have played the Los Angeles schools every year since 1946 in rivalries that started long before that, will each play UCLA and USC every year in football.
"It was something all four of the California schools from minute one stated as essential to us," Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour said. "We would not have been in favor of any deal or ultimate resolution that did not provide that as an opportunity."
The other cross-divisional games in the nine-game conference schedule will rotate, with the Oregon and Washington schools playing in Los Angeles every other year as opposed to the current annual trips. The Northwest schools would either play both L.A. schools every other year or one each year.
"There was robust, spirited dialogue about all of these things," Commissioner Larry Scott said. "These are very important matters that we were dealing with. I'm just really pleased with the way everyone came together and realized we're building an enterprise that's about to scale in a way these schools have never been part of. It wasn't hard to get people to agree. The fact they agreed unanimously was a very strong statement."
The conference will also switch from an appearance-based model, where the Los Angeles schools traditionally earned more money, to an equal sharing of football television revenues when a new TV deal kicks in starting in September of 2012.
The conference currently generates about $60 million a year in television revenues, but that is expected to rise significantly when a new television deal is negotiated. The conference will also control all television and Internet rights for its schools for the first time.
Scott said the CEOs received a report on the possibility of starting a television network like the Big Ten did when the current media deals expire. He said there's significant interest in it, in part because of the exposure it could give to non-revenue sports.
The conference also formally approved a football championship game with the start of division play. NCAA rules require 12 teams and two divisions to stage a lucrative championship game. The Pac-12 will hold its game at the campus site of the division champion with the best conference record.
"You study for a new team every week," Harbaugh said. "If you play the team again, you study them again. In the NFL you can play a team three times in a season if you include the preseason."
Scott said the conference chose a campus site over a neutral location to create a superior environment and to reward the better team. He said he was not concerned about bad weather in December, saying it's something the NFL deals with in its playoffs.
"I think we also said this is football. That was part of the answer also," said Arizona State President Michael Crow, the chairman of the Pac-10 CEO Group.
These changes will be in place next season instead of 2012-13 because Colorado was able to negotiate an approximately $6.8 million deal to leave the Big 12 a year earlier than originally planned.
"I think that's why it was important for us to join in 2011 because it allows the Big 12 Conference to make positive moves for their league and allows the Pac-12 to be the Pac-12," Colorado AD Mike Bohn said.
There will be no divisions in other sports. In basketball, instead of playing a home-and-home round robin, teams will play their traditional rival twice each season. They will also play six other teams in a home-and-home each season with one game against the other four teams. Those will rotate to guarantee an even distribution of games. Utah and Colorado will be considered rivals for that purpose.
"Our key objective was to transform the Pac-10 to a modern 12-team conference that has long term strength, increased value, competitive balance and is fan friendly," Scott said.
The traditional rivalries like Oregon-Oregon State (113 meetings), Cal-Stanford (112), Washington-Washington State (102), Arizona-Arizona State (83) and UCLA-USC (79) will continue to be played at the end of each season. Not to be lost, USC has played Stanford (98 times) and Cal (89) more than it has faced cross town rival UCLA (79).
The inaugural Pac-12 Championship football game will be played in December 2011.