Utah athletic director Chris Hill
Utah athletic director Chris Hill
SEATTLE -- Utah athletic director Chris Hill used to be Marlon Brando. Now he's Joey McIntyre.

With 25 years of experience as athletic director for the Utes, Hill was the Godfather of ADs in the Mountain West Conference. Participating in Pac-12 Conference spring meetings this weekend for the first time, he and Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn are new kids on the block.

"It's such an exciting time for us with so many new things happening that it's been energizing," Hill said. "In the past, I was involved with those schools for a long time. So it was a little bit more routine. Now it's just on a different scale."

Hill and Bohn have routinely met with their counterparts in the Pac-12 since the league invited CU and Utah to join the conference last summer. So they are familiar faces at this point. However, they are now finally able to turn their attention fully to the Pac-12 without concern for the league's they are leaving behind.

And in looking ahead to the future, the idea of a rivalryforming between the Buffs and Utes continues to come up.

Colorado and Utah were paired on rivalry weekend at the end of the football season because every other school in the conference already had a traditional rival to play that weekend.

The question is, will a genuine rivalry form between the schools or is it being forced? Will Utah continue to schedule its old rival Brigham Young beyond the next two years, giving it an early season rivalry game as CU has with Colorado State? Will that take some of the steam out of the Buffs and Utes at the end of the year and a need for a conference rivalry?

Hill said he and Bohn aren't kicking each other in the shins underneath the table this week in an effort to get a rivalry started.

"I think a rivalry takes time to build," Hill said. "The back to the future people will tell you that 40 years ago it used to be a rivalry. The nice thing is we have a chance, and it's not going to happen overnight, but Colorado and Utah have a nice ring. They are Rocky Mountain schools in similar environments.

"It will grow, but it doesn't become that overnight. That's what rivalries are."

Bohn agrees. He said Colorado coaches, fans and players will decide over time what teams in the conference they are most passionate about playing. However, after years in the Big 12 Conference keeping an eye on the guy in the room wearing Nebraska red, it might seem natural to target Hill, whose teams sport the same color.

Hill didn't need much prodding to playfully and jokingly take the first shot Friday.

"I've just learned to not like black and gold very much," Hill said. "I've gotten rid of all my gold or whatever they call that color. We don't like Buffaloes. We think the humane society should be upset about what they do with their mascot."

Basketball tournaments

up for grabs

The Pac-12 recently sent out letters of interest to cities within its footprint inquiring about interest in hosting the men's and women's basketball tournaments in future seasons. The league will follow up by sending a request for proposals to those that respond.

Recent tournaments in Los Angeles at the Staples Center have been played in an arena only 70 or 80 percent full for some games. In a league that now features 10 of the 30 top television markets in the nation, there are plenty of other options, including Denver and Salt Lake City.

Bohn said he was uncertain if the Denver Metro Sports Commission would bid on the tournaments after lackluster attendance when the Pepsi Center hosted the Mountain West Conference tournaments in the recent past. Denver routinely sells out its men's NCAA Tournament games when March Madness comes to town, but Bohn said the market seems to respond differently to local programs and conferences.

The view is just the opposite in Utah. 

"I know the sports commission in Utah is very, very interested in it," Hill said. "We host NCAA basketball a lot in our city and I think our community would see it that way with all these teams coming in. We've been pretty successful with that."

New football rule

scrutinized

In addition to athletic directors meeting this weekend, Pac-12 senior women's administrators and faculty athletic representative also are here.

CU faculty athletic representative Dr. David Clough said discussion among his group Friday centered on a new NCAA rule that will go into effect this fall requiring football players to pass at least nine hours of classes. Those who fail to pass nine hours in the fall semester or quarter would face a four-game suspension the following season.

Players who fail to pass nine hours can qualify for a waiver to have the penalty removed (one time) or decreased by two games if they complete enough credit hours in the spring and summer.

Clough said about half the Pac-12 institutions support the rule, including CU, and about half hope to have it repealed. He said overriding legislation has proven to be difficult in most instances in the past.

Quotable

Pac-12 athletic directors were together in Arizona when the league announced its historic media rights deal with ESPN and Fox last month. So there wasn't any high-fiving in the meeting Friday. However, Hill had this to say about how athletic directors responded to the 12-year, $3 billion deal commissioner Larry Scott negotiated.

"We were carrying Larry around on our shoulders," Hill said.