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Commissioner Larry Scott: Utah Football Has Been A Real Flag-Bearer For Pac-12

Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott during the 2016 Pac-12 Media Day in Hollywood, CA. (Photo by Brian Rothmuller/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott extended an invitation to the University of Utah to join the conference 10-years ago this month.

Scott reflected on having Utah as a member of the conference and remembers the process vividly.

He has also been impressed with how Utah transitioned from the Mountain West Conference to the Pac-12 and is very complimentary of how competitive Utah football is.

“I think it took a couple of years of adjustment, but judging by Utah’s performance and making the Pac-12 championship game a couple of times and this past year being in the top 10 ranked teams in the country most of the season they’ve been a real flag-bearer for the conference in football,” Scott told KSL Sports.

You can listen to the full interview with Commissioner Scott on the Crimson Corner podcast, below.

Utah’s Transition To The Pac-12

The Utes had some tough years early in the process after joining the Pac-12. Football had a couple of 5-7 seasons in 2013 and 2014 while basketball was still adjusting to playing in a power-conference. But, Scott didn’t think there was much of a transition that Utah had to go through.

“There wasn’t much of an integration process,” Scott stated. “I think right from the beginning it was pretty seamless transition and didn’t take long for Utah to be very competitive, certainly in football, which we knew they would be Kyle (Whittingham) has done an amazing job with a team over many years. We saw their strength when they were in the Mountain West. When they had the opportunities in bowl games, they took advantage of them. So, we knew they would be competitive but, in discussions with Kyle and other administrators knew there’d be a bit of a transition from a recruiting perspective, just week in week out the grind of the Pac-12 conference, the juggernaut that it takes to go through in the south and then the cross divisional games.”

On the basketball side, Scott is impressed with what Larry Krystkowiak has done with the program.

“Of course they are competitive in men’s basketball, Larry Krystkowiak has been tremendous, really competitive teams, done well at the Pac-12 tournament,” Scott mentioned. “Across the board from softball, volleyball, of course to other sports have been very, very strong and really haven’t skipped a beat in the transition and it’s been been a very positive thing all around.”

The Process Of Utah Joining The Pac-12

In 2010, many conferences around the country were looking to expand their leagues to find ways to make them more competitive. Larry Scott was at the fore-front of that when he was looking for a couple of schools to join the Pac-10.

“Even under the best of circumstances, finding alignment amongst 10 institutions on a major strategic initiative like that the criteria that was used was a behind the scenes process in it of itself, focused on what our priorities and filters would be and thinking about what schools would make sense to add and it was about academically strong institutions and markets that would be additive to the conference,” Scott mentioned. “Strong traditions with football success, men’s and women’s basketball and commitment to a broad based sports sponsorship and excellence across the board and Olympic sports because that’s part of the DNA of this league and schools that were committed to doing things the right way that would be an overall fit and a lot of respects. That led us to Utah as a pretty obvious choice early on.”

At the time of realignment conversations, rumors swirled around that the Pac-10 was going to bring in 6 teams from the Big 12 to create a “Super Conference” but that wasn’t the case and it all worked out for Utah in the end.

“There were multiple scenarios during that time,” said Scott. “Expansion was in the air, a lot of different leagues were looking at it and we had multiple scenarios we were working on at once but I look back and very grateful that it all worked out. Utah’s added a tremendous amount of value to the league on a lot of different levels is performed very well. It just wound up being a great fit in retrospect.”

10-Years Ago At Utah State Capitol

Scott couldn’t believe how fast 10 years has gone by but remembers the entire event at the state capitol when Utah accepted his invitation to join the Pac-12.

“It has gone by in a flash when you think of it that way,” Scott said. “But I’ve still got vivid memories of not just the process. But it was a glorious day on the steps of the state capitol when we announced that Utah was joining the Pac-12. And it was just great to see the community support and enthusiasm not just in the world of athletics, but on that day, I remember feeling the emotion, the enthusiasm from the academic side of the U as well as the community more broadly. I look back with a lot of gratitude and pride, because it’s worked out exceedingly well, from our perspective, and Utah has been a tremendous fit to the Pac-12 conference.”

July 1st is the Utah Pac-12 Day in the state of Utah. They officially joined the Pac-12 on July 1, 2011.

Trevor Allen is a Utah Utes Insider for KSLSports.com and host of the Crimson Corner podcast. Follow him on Twitter: @TrevorASportsYou can download and listen to the podcast, here.

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