WSU's football game this weekend against Stanford weighs slightly more than it did earlier this week. The Cougs and Cardinal will be North division foes in the Pac-12 football alignment announced Thursday. Here's how the divisions will look:
North — California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington, Washington State
South — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, UCLA, USC, Utah
Hands down, the North is the heavyweight of the two divisions. The stars are aligned for USC to reign year after year in the South. The Trojans will only play the Northwest schools every other year as part of the conference's plan to keep the California rivalries intact. Without Oregon, Oregon State and Washington in the way every year, USC has an easier path to the Pac-12 title game. And yet I wouldn't be surprised if, in a few years, USC gets bored and wants to seek out better competition in another conference a la Texas. Plus, with the Pac-12's revenue-sharing plan, going elsewhere might prove to be a financial boon for the Trojans.
With fewer teams ahead of them in the new alignment, the Cougs, as dismal as they are right now, have a better shot than ever of rising — or at least playing the spoiler role. But it's clear WSU won't compete in the North unless big changes are made. The Cougs should use some of the extra revenue-sharing money that will be coming their way to overhaul their staff, starting with the defensive coaches. There's no excuse for lagging near or at the bottom of the national rankings in just about every category.