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Originally published Wednesday, September 29, 2010 at 8:49 PM

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Could Pac-10 conference changes hurt Cougars' recruiting?

Current Cougars from Southern California say conference changes would not have kept them from joining WSU, but would be disappointing.

Spokane Spokesman-Review

PULLMAN — The athletic directors in the Pac-10 will gather in San Francisco once again next week, the latest in a series of ongoing discussions concerning the future of the conference.

Next year, the universities of Utah and Colorado will join the group, forming the Pac-12, and making necessary splitting the conference in two for football.

That's the only way the conference will be able to hold a lucrative championship game, a winner-takes-all battle at a yet-to-be-picked site televised by a to-be-figured-out network for a still-to-be-determined large amount of money. To say things are up in the air is an understatement.

But one thing is clear: The conference is changing. And the once sacrosanct annual trip to Southern California for the Northwest schools will probably be bargained away for a better financial arrangement.

Which means the Washington State University players from the area will miss playing in front of their family and friends, a not-insignificant recruiting plum.

"Of course it was important," said center Zack Williams, who attended high school and junior college in Southern California.

Williams, a senior, and offensive linemate Andrew Roxas, a junior, will make their final trip to the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, a town they both called home, this Saturday. And though they both say the trip home was part of the allure of playing in the Pac-10, if it hadn't existed they would have still attended WSU.

Williams, who is making his first collegiate trip to the Rose Bowl, has played there before when his Pasadena High team met archrival Muir High in the Turkey Tussle. His high-school graduation was also held in the bowl, a longtime Pasadena tradition.

"You definitely want to play in front of friends and family," Williams said. "I graduated in the Rose Bowl, I played in the Rose Bowl. It was something I definitely wanted to get back to, and it will be exciting to play there again."

"The opportunity to play in the Pac-10 conference was big for me," said Roxas, who attended elementary school in downtown Pasadena and played his high-school ball just up the Arroyo Seco at St. Francis. "But staying close enough to home, (so I) played teams where my family could drive to most of the away games, was real important for me, too."

But that all might change with the additions, and Williams doesn't see that as a good thing.

"Yeah, that would be disappointing not going to L.A.," he said. "Now you know you have at least two games in California each year, so if that changed it would be pretty disappointing."

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But it wouldn't have stopped either from attending Washington State.

"What made me come here was Pullman," Roxas said. "The people around here I got to know on my trip. It really wouldn't have made a difference."

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