Huskies Insider Blog

Obama, Pac-12 alignment and Locker: Busy day at UW

The hottest ticket around campus today had nothing to do with Pacific-10 (or 12) alignment for the future. or the Huskies' all-important game at 15th-ranked Arizona on Saturday.

Of course, that wait-in-line spectator frenzy belonged to President Barack Obama, the keynote speaker at a Patty Murray rally.

But those aforementioned topics certainly had buzz of their own.

About the game:

* Quarterback Jake Locker is nearing full health, once again. The rest - he didn't practice at all Wednesday - has been beneficial. And the senior returned Thursday to take nearly all the snaps with the first-string offense in practice.

"Thought he had a nice practice," UW coach Steve Sarkisian said. "Thought he looked good. Threw the ball well, ran well (and) really locked into what we were trying to get accomplished."

What Locker is able to do run-wise might be determined in the same manner as last week. Sarkisian could give him a rushing attempt, or rollout pass right out of the gate to test him.

"We’re just going to monitor him like I had to," Sarkisian said. "I’m going to try to get a feel for him on the first series or two to see exactly where he’s at, movement-wise. We’ll just have to assess it as we go."

As for other hobbled players, offensive lineman Erik Kohler (mononucleosis) and receivers Kevin Smith (fractured hand) and Devin Aguilar (hip pointer) will all travel, and are expected to see a good amount of playing time.

Smith has overcome more than just his injury.

"He’s learning to catch with a cast on," Sarkisian said.

About the new alignment:

* Next July, the new Pac-10 - the Pac-12 with the additions of Colorado and Utah - will come together for the first time.

And on Thursday, conference commissioner Larry Scott unveiled the approved comprehensive plans for the league, including divisional alignment and revenue sharing for football.

One division (South) will include UCLA, USC, Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah.Another division (North) will include Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State, California and Stanford.

Each league school will keep a nine-game conference schedule. All the California schools will play one another every season - a key facet to the overall approval vote - while the Northwest schools will rotate their non-divisional, intra-conference schedule on an every-other-year basis.

Concessions had to be made for the universities to all get on the same page, especially with equal revenue sharing.

"This is a very, very good day for the Pac-10 and the UW," said Scott Woodward, the athletic director for the Huskies. "We’re primarily in position to really get a blockbuster TV deal to … really put us on par going forward with the SEC and Big 10 from a financial standpoint.

"We were woefully underfunded for years. It’s great to play some catch-up."

Gone is the "traditional rival rule" - which in the UW's case, meant giving WSU a heck of a lot more money when the Apple Cup was in Seattle than the Cougars gave the Huskies when it was held in Pullman (one report indicated it was a $400,000 disparity).

"It was patently unfair," Woodward said.

Sure, it appears on the surface that the one concession the Northwest schools will make it limiting their appearance in Los Angeles to an every-ohter-year basis, which could easily affect exposure for recruiting in that market.

"With this, would we like to be in LA more? Sure," Woodward said. "But there is give-and-take in this process. The long-term positive growth of this league, and our individual institutions is paramount."

After practice Thursday, the first question posed to Sarkisian was his thoughts about the new alignment.

Apparently, not many for public consumption.

"We're playing Arizona (on) Saturday night," Sarkisian said. "We'll worry about 2011 next year."

Reminded later in the interview the Huskies should benefit from equal revenue sharing, Sarkisian did not blink.

"That’s great. All that stuff’s great," Sarkisian said. "We’ve got to win Saturday night."

When reminded that the UW won't be in Los Angeles every season, Sarkisian ended the interview, and ran to the tunnel.

Woodward has spoken to his coach, and relayed some of those thoughts Thursday.

"He’s very pleased with it. His great quote is, ‘They’re going to be sick of seeing me in LA for the month of January because of recruiting,'" Woodward said. "We wouldn’t mind playing there like it is now (every year), but there is give-and-take. The overarching good of the whole, and our institutions and staying competitive moving forward is what, at the end of the day, is most important."

* Also, Scott said a conference championship game will be held at the site of the university with the best overall record.

Here is the list of each stadium and its capacity in the conference:

{School} {Stadium} {Capacity}USC Memorial Coliseum92,000UCLA The Rose Bowl 91,500Washington Husky Stadium 72,500California Memorial Stadium 71,799ASU Sun Devil Stadium 71,706Arizona Arizona Stadium 57,400Oregon Autzen Stadium 54,000Colorado Folsom Field 53,750Stanford Stanford Stadium 50,033OSU Reser Stadium 45,674Utah Rice-Eccles 45,634WSU Martin Stadium 35,117