Why Are The Utah Utes In the Pac-12?
The Utah Utes have officially complete three seasons in the Pac-12. In their first season in 2011, they finished 8-5 and won the Sun Bowl, which is a decent record for a team in a new conference. In 2012, they went 5-7, which was probably expected. Now this year, 2013, the Utes went 5-7 again, except all of those losses came in conference. I understand being in a new conference and adjusting to the new teams can be difficult, but it begs the question, what is Utah doing in such a powerful conference?
Utah has had plenty of success in the past, the most recent being winning seven bowl games in a row from 2003-09. All these bowl wins, however, came in the Mountain West Conference (MWC). The MWC is not a conference of powerhouses, the only notable ones being Fresno State, who joined in 2012, and Boise State, who joined in 2011. So, if Utah had so much success, why did they leave?
If they were looking for a challenge, they sure got it. The Pac-12 is not a conference to join for easy wins. Wanting to be more challenged in conference football play is a good mindset, but I don’t think jumping from a new, average conference such as the MWC, to the highly-competitive Pac-12 is a good idea.
Utah had to make a choice. They had to decide if they wanted to keep dominating lower opponents, or be challenged by top recruiting schools in the Pac-12. The Utes appear to have gotten more than what they asked for, as they had a dismal season. Pac-12 stands for Pacific 12, so sure, Utah fits in geographically, but it doesn’t appear they’ll be experiencing the same success in conference switching as Missouri did.