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The crazy two-week ride in June, 2010, leading up to CU joining the Pac-10

Note … Below is a blow-by-blow, day-by-day recap of the first ten days of June, 2010. New rumors were circulating daily: Would there be a “Pac-16”? Remember how Baylor was (aggressively) lobbying to replace Colorado in any expansion considerations? Where would Nebraska land? The five days of the “Pac-11” … Ah, those were the days! … 

June 1st

Big 12 meetings will be anything but dull

“I’m going to put to our membership that they quit deciding how to react and just go forward”, was the gauntlet thrown down by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe several weeks ago when discussing this week’s Big 12 meetings. “We’re going forward, this plane is going to take off and we’re going to see who’s on board.”

Beebe has backed down somewhat since making that statement, but with “conference membership” officially on the agenda this week, Beebe acknowledges that his strategy this week will consist of “convincing, cajoling and making recommendations.”

Three schools who have not been involved in the expansion discussion had leaders weigh in supporting Beebe’s stance.

“Everybody has to have patience,” said Kansas University athletic director Lew Perkins. “This is very serious stuff. I think we need to be very careful to not overreact. We must make sure we have all the facts and make sure we know what we’re doing and make sure we’re communicating with each other.”

Oklahoma athletic director Joe Castiglione believes Beebe will present the membership with compelling reasons to stay the course. “The commissioner has been working diligently with everybody who could have some bearing on possibilities for change,” Castiglione said. “The greatest amount of his effort has been to identify ways we can strengthen our conference. We will hear directly from (Nebraska and Missouri) when we meet face-to-face. I think it’s very wise to have a very frank conversation about our unification.”

Oklahoma State athletic director Mike Holder, there is an acknowledgement that there are dollars out there for Missouri and Nebraska (and, potentially, Colorado) to make with other conferences, but he also believes that Big 12 members are just a few years away from reaping the benefits of new television contracts of their own. “It’s going to take a little bit of faith in the future on the part of everyone (in the Big 12) to be really willing to look past what the disparity is now in income and say that will change in the future,” Holder said. “You’ve got to be a real believer in this conference.”

At the end of the day, Holder believes that expansion talk this week will come down to two questions. “Do you believe strongly in the future of the Big 12 Conference? And does that outweigh the attractiveness of moving to another pasture?”.

While it is unlikely that any decisions of substance will come out of the Big 12 meetings this week – Will Beebe convince the membership to change its television distribution plan? Will the buyout for departing members be increased? Can Beebe obtain votes for – and enforce – some sort of loyalty vote? – the fact that such discussions are taking place is a fair indication of how far the issue of expansion has come.

June 3rd

“This is serious, serious, serious”

Kansas athletic director Lew Perkins knows of what he speaks. With Big 12 meetings underway, and Pac-10 meetings coming up, the issue of conference expansion has become very serious business.

To get you up to date on the stories from Kansas City …

Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton said that Missouri remains a “proud member of the Big 12”, but Deaton also said, “We’re not shutting our ears to anything. I’m sure every school here has a responsibility to its own institution … Conference realignment is something we do for our athletic programs. That’s what we’re looking at right now.”

What about Nebraska? “It’s important to understand I don’t think the Big Ten knows what they’re going to do”, said Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne. “They might add one (school), they may add three, they may add five. So we have no indication right now even what’s going to happen.” (First impression – ‘ol Dr. Tom didn’t put in the possibility of “they might add none” to his Big Ten expansion hypothetical. Just one more log on the fire of expansion being a “when”, not an “if”).

Osborne also noted that there may be more news out of Kansas City on Friday. “I think your story is going to come when the presidents are here,” said Osborne – and I don’t think he was talking about the expected announcement of future Big 12 title games being played in Dallas.

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, who had stated recently that his goal of these meetings was to display conference unity, and to obtain a commitment of loyalty from the membership, is not as optimistic now. “There’s a lot of interest by a lot of the athletic directors to try and get to the same goal I have – some sort of conclusion on the commitment of all institutions,” Beebe said. “I just don’t know if that’s possible or not. The presidents and the board are the ones who have to answer that.”

As for the Buffs, Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn did nothing to quell the rumors of potential moves. “Colorado has been committed to the Big 12 all along,” said Bohn, before going on to say, “However, when there’s so much uncertainty out there, you have to begin to think about what that means for potential challenges down the road. It will be great having the presidents and chancellors with us tomorrow.”

Sounds like fun – tune in tomorrow for more from the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City.

Meanwhile …

Are you ready for the “Pac-16”?

An article first published on Rivals at Orangebloods.com has exploded onto the internet today. For the non-Rivals members, the gist of the article is that, when the Pac-10 meetings get underway this weekend, the Pac-10 may be the first to make a bold move in the conference realignment sweepstakes.

According to the article, the Pac-10, as early as this weekend, may invite Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Colorado to join its league, according to “multiple sources close to the situation.” The six refugees from the Big 12 would join Arizona and Arizona State to form one division, with the remaining eight schools from the Pac-10 in the other.

The upside? Huge dollar signs.

The new league would be in a position to operate its own television network (akin to the Big Ten Network), and, with seven of the country’s top 20 television markets (not to mention half of the United States) the Pac-16 could command television revenues which could easily double the roughly $9 million that Big 12 and Pac-10 schools presently receive.

The Orangebloods article does state that Texas A&M and Oklahoma may not be enamoured with the idea of joining the Pac-16. Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne has been quoted as being critical of the possibility of his athletes heading west two time zones to compete, and then having to return to College Station in the early morning hours of the following day. Meanwhile Oklahoma, which has been playing the unity card in the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City (remember the “they’ll be sorry if they leave” comment from last week from the Sooner athletic director?), is rumored to be more interested in joining the SEC that the Pac-10 should realignment become a reality.

The article concludes: “The Pac-10 doesn’t want to waste time by going out on dates with the Big 12 with a non-conference football scheduling alliance. It wants to take half of the Big 12 and get married. Now, we’ll see who, if anyone meets them at the altar.”

My first reaction, as is usually the case when Colorado is mentioned as part of conference realignment, is one of relief. I am very fearful that all of this conference juggling is happening at the very worst time for Colorado. The CU athletic department has no money in the bank to pay defection fees, and all three of the high profile sports are in prolonged losing streaks. Such was not the case in 1994. The last time the Pac-10 last came calling, Colorado was a perennial national contender in football.

First and foremost, I don’t want Colorado to be left behind when the realignment trains pull out of the station, so if the Pac-10 comes calling, the Buffs should leap at the opportunity.

That being said, the “Pac-16”, as discussed in the article, does not strike me as a good deal for the Buffs. The idea behind going west was to get away from the discrepancies Colorado faces in terms of revenues in the Big 12. Get away from Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska, the argument goes, and compete with schools of similar size, financial backing, and academic standing.

If Colorado was to be invited to be a part of the six team defection, Colorado would compete in the same division as Texas and Oklahoma. Does anyone see that as a plus for the Buffs long term?The Buffs could well become to the “Pac-16 Eastern division” what Baylor is presently to the Big 12 South – a school allowed a seat at the adult table, but not allowed to participate in the title discussion.

Plus, one of the main benefits of joining the “Pac-12” was to be that Colorado could increase its recruiting presence in the state of California. With the Pac-16 model discussed, Colorado could have seven games of its season against other members of its division, which would mean the majority of conference road trips will be to the states of Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona – not bad, but not much different that what Colorado has now, with predictable results: second tier players after Texas and Oklahoma have cherry-picked the best players. California would become, at best, a once a season trip, and perhaps only twice every four seasons as the Buffs worked their way through the rotation of “Pac-16 West” teams.

Would it be better for Colorado to join the Pac-16 than to be left uninvited? Absolutely. But would it help restore the program to national prominence? I don’t think so. I would still much rather be a part of a Pac-12 expansion (regardless of the identity of the other new member).

Finally, there is this one satisfying thought …

The Orangebloods article notes that, while Nebraska is often rumored to be a part of the Big Ten expansion, such might not be the case. “There also appears to be a chance Nebraska will not get invited to the Big Ten,” wrote Chip Brown, “which means the only school the Big 12 stands to lose to the Big Ten is Missouri”. Brown also states, “The Tigers already have one foot in the Big Ten. But Nebraska has no assurance it will be invited to the Big Ten, and could be completely left out of the power conference structure if it’s not careful.”

Let that one sink in for a second.

A world in which Colorado is part of a super conference …  Nebraska is not?

Priceless!

Bohn Comments on Pac-16

It is being reported that Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn is lending credence to the Pac-16 rumor. “The longer that we were together in Kansas City, it appeared that the rumor or speculation did have some validity to it,” said Bohn. “We’re led to believe that may be the case (invitations being extended), but, again, there are so many different reports and different dialogues and different developments within our league and outside our league that prevents me from being able to predict what will happen.”

In response to the report, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott issued a statement. “We have not developed any definitive plans,” Scott said. “We have not extended any invitations for expansion, and we do not any such decisions in the near term.”

Program Note: There could very well be much more news on realignment this weekend. I will post news from the Big 12 Presidents’ Friday meetings as soon as it is available, and will keep an eye on the Pac-10 all weekend.

June 4th

Is Dan Beebe the new Nero?

“I am comfortable”, said Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe as the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City came to their conclusion. “There’s still a process we’re going through, but based on the conversations we had, I think we’re in a very good position.”

While Dan Beebe fiddles, the Big 12 is burning, perhaps to the ground …

After four days of meetings, the Big 12 presidents and athletic directors returned to their respective corners, but left Kansas City anything but unified. Instead of ending the meetings with a “We are the World” sing-a-long, the teams seem more and more likely to go their separate ways.

The latest …

The Associated Press is reporting that it has confirmed that the Big Ten is interested in pursuing Texas. Gordon Gee, president of Ohio State (and former president at Colorado  – a quick aside: both my wife, an Ohio State grad, and I, have diplomas signed by Gordon Gee) told Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany in an email that he, Gee, had spoken with Texas president Bill Powers about Texas joining the Big Ten conference. Powers, who was scheduled to attend Dan Beebe’s press conference Friday, did not attend. Read into that what you will.

With Nebraska, Missouri, and Texas in the mix for the Big Ten, and the stunning report Thursday that six Big 12 schools – Colorado, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech – were being considered for membership in a super “Pac-16” conference, schools such as Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, and Baylor may be left scrambling to form a new league, or rebuild the Big 12.

“We are committed to our membership in the Big 12, and we are optimistic that the conference will remain in tact,” said Iowa State president Gregory Geoffroy in a letter to alumni. Geoffroy did concede, however, “we also recognize that the long-term viability of the Big 12 conference is not in our control, it is in the hands of just a few of our fellow members.”

Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe spent the week touting how well the conference is doing, and that he expected huge financial windfalls when the Big 12’s contracts come up for renewal. His announcement that the Big 12 had distributed a record $139 million to its members this past fiscal year sounded good … until the SEC a few hours later announced that it was distributing $209 million to its members.

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn may well have prematurely let the cat out of the bag on Thursday when he told the Daily Camera that six Big 12 teams were under consideration for membership in the Pac-10. However, it is worthy of note that no one in authority from any team in this discussion has denied that the option is in fact being explored by the Pac-10.

The Pac-10 meetings get underway in San Francisco Saturday. Look for more quotable quotes generating more banner headlines this weekend.

Just don’t look for them to come from Dan “Nero” Beebe.

June 6th

The latest from Orangebloods.com

Chip Brown, who writes for Orangebloods.com, and was the first to post the “six teams from the Big 12 to the Pac-10” story, has posted his latest version of events.

Interesting tidbits include …

A Big 12 athletic director has told Orangebloods.com that the Pac-10 has indicated that it might be willing to invite Baylor instead of Colorado in order to avoid a political storm that could hold up negotiations with other Big 12 South schools.

It appears that the future fate for Colorado, and the rest of the Big 12, may rest with … Nebraska.

At the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City, nine schools were willing to commit  to the future of the conference, but three were not – Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado. Orangebloods.com is reporting that it was not just Nebraska and Missouri which were given deadlines of next Friday to commit to remaining in the conference (see below), but that Colorado was as well. Still, Nebraska remains the key. The sentiment is that the Big 12 conference could survive the loss of Missouri, and that Colorado might not get invited to join the Pac-10 unless its a package deal with Texas, leaving Nebraska the school which will preserve – or topple – the Big 12.

If Nebraska will not commit to staying in the Big 12, Texas may feel compelled to look elsewhere for its future home. If Texas leaves, the Pac-10 may in fact add six teams, including most – or perhaps all – of the Big 12 South.

Will Colorado lose out to Baylor in the super-conference sweepstakes? Baylor beat out TCU for Big 12 membership in 1994, when the old Southwest Conference was folding. Powerful lawmakers in Austin leveraged Baylor into the new Big 12, leaving TCU to wind its way through, for the past decade and a half, the WAC, Conference USA, and now the Mountain West Conference.

It could happen. With the Buffs’ mired in a four-season losing streak in football, not fielding competitive basketball teams, and not competing at all in other sports such as baseball and gymnastics, Baylor may prove to be a more attractive alternative. If Nebraska and Missouri then also leave, Colorado could be left with the remaining unwanteds – Kansas, Kansas State, and Iowa State – to forage for a new alignment. Certainly, any such new conference, or any reconfiguration of the “Big 12” without Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Texas, would not command as many dollars in the lucrative wars for television revenue, and would be hard pressed to maintain its BCS status.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. There were four scenarios given to Pac-10 presidents this weekend by commissioner Larry Scott: 1) a non-conference, made-for-TV merger with the Big 12; 2) a six team expansion; 3) a two team expansion (Colorado and Utah); and 4) do nothing at all. In only one aspect of the four proposals – a six team expansion which does not include the Buffs – does Colorado come out worse off than the present alignment. As noted below, Scott has been given the green light to explore all expansion options, and he is said to favor the six team plan (one which includes Colorado).

Of course, the way things have been going for the Buffs the past few years …

“The Pac-10’s in a very fortunate position”

The final day of the Pac-10 conference meetings ended with commissioner Larry Scott given all the authority he needs to expand the Pac-10.

“What direction that process takes still could go in different directions, everything from remaining as we are as a Pac-10 that’s got some very bright days ahead of it to a bigger conference footprint,” said Scott. “I have the authority to take it in different directions, depending on various scenarios and discussions we’re going to have.”

Scott would not discuss specific schools the conference is interested in inviting, but there is at least a new deadline for the Pac-10 – the end of this year. However, the speculation now is that the expansion announcement target date may be July 27th, the first day of the Pac-10 media days in New York.

As far as how many schools may be invited, Scott was non-committal. “You’ve read about an awful lot of ideas,” said Scott. “I’m not sure I’ve read every single one, but we probably have contemplated or are contemplating almost everything you’ve read about.”

Money, of course, is the great motivator, but what about all of the discussion we’ve heard over the past few months about the Pac-10 wanting only AAU schools, and schools which meet other conditions of tradition and academics? “I can’t say for sure sitting here today that there are options which will achieve these goals (exponential growth in revenue) where the Pac-10 can stay true to its DNA and its special values,” said Scott. “But there are some very exciting possibilities out there. That’s why we’re investing so much time and effort.”

“In or out?” – Cornhuskers/Tigers may need to make a decision soon

Two “highly placed officials of two Big 12 schools” are being quoted by the Austin Statesman as stating that Missouri and Nebraska have been given an ultimatum by the Big 12. The two schools have been told that they have until this Friday (June 11th) to decide if they want to remain in the Big 12, or entertain the possibility of joining the Big Ten. “Nebraska has until 5:00 p.m. on Friday to tell us what they’re going to do,” said one official. “The same deal for Missouri. They have to tell us they’re not going to the Big Ten, or …”.

The quote was also cited by CBSSports.com, who also had a source which said, “I know that (Nebraska has been given an ultimatum) for a fact”.

The problem for Nebraska and Missouri is that the Big Ten, at least so far, is sticking with its “12-to-18 month” scenario, with six to twelve months to go on that timetable. What if Nebraska and Missouri opt for the Big Ten – and then are not invited? Adding intrigue to the story is that Big Ten presidents are meeting Sunday at a regularly scheduled meeting at league offices. Will the Big 12 ultimatum speed up the Big Ten’s timetable? Will Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, expected to address the media Sunday, have any to add?

As for the expansion of the Pac-10, the statesman.com story had conflicting quotes. “I’ve talked to the Pac-10”, said the Big 12 official, who expects a resolution within two weeks. “There is an invitation. When it comes, it’ll come fast.” Meanwhile, a Pac-10 athletic director told the Statesman, “There’s still a lot that has to happen. It’s nowhere near done.”

The last word went to what was described as a “political figure heavily connected to Texas”, who said, “I know the war drums are beating. This is way beyond gossip.”

Why do we care about “political figures” in Texas?

See below.

Baylor in, Colorado out?

Orangebloods.com, the Rivals.com site which first broke the story about the Pac-10 inviting six Big 12 schools to join their league, is now reporting that members of the Texas state legislature are going to push for Baylor, not Colorado, to join the new league along with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech.

“If you’re going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we’re going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South? I don’t think so,” said what was stated to be a “high-ranking member” of the Texas state legislature. “We’re already at work on this.”

Meanwhile, at the start of the Pac-10 meetings in San Francisco, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott reportedly laid out a number of scenarios to the conference’s athletic directors: 1) some sort of merger with the Big 12 (pre-packaged non-conference games for television); 2) merging with six Big 12 schools; 3) merging with just Colorado and Utah; and 4) doing nothing. Scott is scheduled to brief school presidents and chancellors on Sunday.

June 7th

Pac-10 to invite five – and leave Colorado/Baylor question dangling?

According to Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com, who seems to be the one reporter out there ahead of everyone else when it comes to breaking news on the issue of conference realignment, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott could be extending invitations to five Big 12 schools to join his league, and may do so as early as this week.

That’s right – five.

The sixth invitation? It “still appears to be up in the air”, said Brown.

According to multiple sources, Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech are getting invitations. Whether Colorado or Baylor gets the sixth invitation may well depend on how much a problem not inviting Baylor would cause the proposed expansion (see “Baylor fighting hard to boot Buffs”, below).

Notre Dame on the clock?

As noted below, Nebraska may hold the key to whether Texas bolts to the Pac-10. But what Nebraska does may be completely dependent upon what Notre Dame chooses to do. There is now speculation that Notre Dame has been put on the clock, much like Nebraska, Missouri, and Colorado. The Big Ten’s first choice in expansion is to add just one team – Notre Dame – and go about its business as a lucrative 12-team league.

But … if Notre Dame balks, and decides it would rather remain independent (not as clear a choice, with the possibility of a four 16-team super conferences is beginning to look more and more like a reality), then the Big Ten may pull the trigger on adding three or five teams to its league, which could well involve Nebraska.

If Nebraska bolts to the Big Ten, then it makes it easier for Texas to just say “no” to the Big 12, and turn its attention to accepting admission into the Pac-16. If Nebraska stays, Texas might stay in the Big 12, whether or not Missouri leaves for the Big Ten.

If Texas does decide to leave, it will likely be taking five of its Big 12 brethren with them (side issue: If eight teams leave the Big 12, who will be left to assess the penalties for leaving early?). Will the sixth team be Colorado or Baylor? The choice could become the question in college football – at least until the dominos start to fall in other conferences.

There is much concern on the internet boards that Colorado, unlike Baylor, has been very quiet. There have been no leaked emails, no pronouncements of how much better the Buffs would be for the Pac-10 than the Bears, no press conferences.

It may not be a bad thing. Colorado, remember, has been in the discussion from the beginning. When the Pac-10 was rumored to be looking at two teams, it was Colorado and Utah. When the first story was posted about the Pac-10 looking at six teams, Colorado was on the list. Geographically, historically, and symetrically, Baylor would have been a more obvious choice. If you are going to take five teams from the Big 12 South, why not just take all six?

Simple answer: The Pac-10 would prefer Colorado. The simple fact that Colorado was part of the initial grouping tells you that the Pac-10 officials, with every team in the western half of the nation to choose from, looked to Colorado. It was not “the Big 12 South five plus Utah”, or “the Big 12 South five plus TCU”, or the “Big 12 South five plus Baylor” – it was the “Big 12 South plus Colorado”. We have to trust that the Colorado administration – and for many of us, that’s a stretch – is working the phones with their counterparts, and having alumni, professors, and administrators talking up the University of Colorado.

Besides, at the end of the day, it is not Baylor which stands between Colorado and an invitation. It is the fear that Texas might back out if the political pressure gets too great. Without Texas, there is no way the Pac-10 would reach as far east to add teams to its league. Without Texas, there might not be any reason for the Pac-10 to expand at all. Without Texas, all bets are off.

If Texas says “Baylor” … the Pac-10 says, “Welcome, Bears!”

So, if you are afraid the Buffs will be left out of the Pac-16, you might hope for – of all things – that Notre Dame joins the Big Ten. That would keep Nebraska in the Big 12, which would keep Texas in the Big 12.

Which would get us back to reading preseason magazines, wondering how the Buffs will piece together six wins and a bowl bid.

Baylor fighting hard to boot Buffs

A strong lobbying effort is being made by legislators and lobbyists in Texas to try and keep the four members of the Big 12 South together in any expansion discussion. Prominent Austin lobbyist and Baylor regent Buddy Jones has launched a campaign to have Baylor included in any Pac-16 discussion, to the exclusion of Colorado.

“My guess is that Colorado hasn’t taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet, and they may be well on the invite list,” Jones said in an email to Baylor alumni and supporters. “I hope I’m wrong. But there’s still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren’t through.”

In another email, Jones urged alumni in the Texas legislature to contact officials from Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, providing them talking points on how to lobby for Baylor’s inclusion. “It is imperative that whatever happens, the four Texas schools (and hopefully Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) agree to stick together,” Jones wrote. “United we stand. And the three public Universities you all are contacting understand the importance of an issue that touches 20 of their bosses in the Legislature.”

Then there is this. Chip Brown, the Orangebloods.com writer (formerly of the Dallas Morning News) had this to say. “I’ve been told that Larry Scott, the commissioner of the Pac-10, is going to leave it up to the folks here in Austin,” said Brown. “If they feel that strongly about Baylor, then Baylor is in”.

The main problem for Colorado in this rapidly developing story is that the Pac-10, while it’s membership may favor Colorado – its academics and its television market – those same members may not want to fight for the Buffs if the fight means getting bogged down in a bitter fight with the Texas legislature.

Put yourself in Larry Scott’s shoes. If you, the new Pac-10 commissioner, get Texas – the cherry, the plum, the ultimate prize – you don’t care that Texas Tech and A&M come along for the ride. You don’t care that Baylor comes along instead of Colorado. If the Pac-10 gets Texas – it wins the expansion sweepstakes. Period.

So, Baylor is lobbying hard for inclusion in the new “Pac-16”. Emails are flying; calls are being made; strategies launched.

Meanwhile, back in Boulder … crickets. If you are a glass half-full Buff, then you believe that the CU administration is working the phones behind the scenes, reminding  their Pac-10 counterparts of all that the University of Colorado would bring to the conference. If you are glass half-empty Buff, however …

If Colorado winds up in the Mountain West, or a diluted Big 12, Buff fans will look back at this month as the time when Colorado lost its status as one of the top 20 programs in college football history.

June 8th

CU Board of Regents meet to discuss conference realignment

The University of Colorado Board of Regents met tonight to discuss a “specfic legal matter”. The Daily Camera described the meeting as a “secret meeting”, but the Board of Regents is not actually allowed under state law to conduct “secret meetings”. What the Regents did was convene a Special Board meeting, at which time the recessed into executive session to discuss what the agenda described as a specific legal matter. There was no public access to the meeting, and no formal action was taken.

Now, what the Regents discussed is anyone’s guess, but it would be safe to assume that it did not involve a party to celebrate the Buffs being asked to join the Mountain West Conference. Best case scenario: the invitation to join the Pac-12 or Pac-16 was extended, and the Board needed to meet to discuss particulars about giving notice to the Big 12, and financial repercussions about such a significant move. Worst case scenario: the Regents are coming late to the party of trying to influence the Pac-10 officials, and are scrambling to catch up with the Baylor political machinery and media bashing of the University of Colorado.

The question now is …

Will COLORADO be the first team to leave the Big 12?

None other than Chip Brown at Orangebloods.com – who has become the insider quoted by every other new service in the country on this topic – is speculating that the meeting of the Board of Regents was to discuss the possibility of bolting from the Big 12 NOW, rather than wait to see how the other chips may fall nationwide. As it would be non-sensical for Colorado to assume the worst, and prematurely leave the conference for the lesser Mountain West Conference, the speculation is that Colorado will announce it has accepted a bid to join the Pac-10.

Such a bold move by the CU administration, after days of being bashed on the internet for sitting idly by while Baylor alumni and supporters bashed all things Colorado, would rightly give the Buffs the chance to be smug. But we are getting ahead of ourselves …

If Colorado accepts a bid to join the Pac-10, it would not only undercut any attempts by Baylor to sway the Texas legislature to force an invitation to the Bears, it might also put the Buffs into a position to gain a landscape which many fans (including this one) want the most … a Pac-12 instead of a Pac-16.

If Texas wanted to join the Pac-16 without Baylor, so be it. At least Colorado would have acted in its best interests, and will not finish without a chair at the big boys table when this game of conference musical chairs comes to a close.

But if Texas were to decide it wanted to stay in the Big 12 – with or without Colorado, Nebraska, and/or Missouri – the Pac-10 could still act on one of the scenarios proposed to its membership last weekend, namely to expand by two teams (Colorado and Utah), rather than by six.

Dare to dream …

Update: There will be no announcement about Colorado’s future, at least not tonight. Ken McConnellogue, a spokesman for the University, said that there was no offer on the table from the Pac-10, and that there would be nothing more from the school concerning the meeting of the Board of Regents. McConnellogue did say that Buff fans could be assured that the Board of Regents and Colorado administration are looking after the school’s best interests with regard to conference expansion.

Sleep tight, Buff fans, for at least one more night …

June 9th

Nebraska decision Friday?

All roads lead to Lincoln, at least this Friday.

The Nebraska Board of Regents will convene this Friday, and, in one of the worst kept secrets of the week, will discuss the ramifications of joining the Big Ten. The best anyone can say right now is that there is a “good chance” that Nebraska will vote to join the Big Ten, that summation coming courtesy of ESPN. Ken Schroeder, a member of the Nebraska Board of Regents since 1998, said that he expects a presentation by Nebraska President Harvey Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne as to whether the school will change conferences or remain in the Big 12.

Of course, if Nebraska had every intention of staying put, there would be no reason for the buildup for the meeting. The Cornhuskers, either at the Big 12 meetings in Kansas City or upon receiving the “ultimatum” about making a decision, could have turned their back on expansion and sung the praises of the Big 12.

The silence out of Lincoln speaks volumes.

One significant sticking point remains, however …  Nebraska is on the verge of accepting an invitation which has not yet been extended.

Notre Dame, of course, remains in the mix for Big Ten membership, and there are as many opinions about what the Irish will do as there are websites to post those opinions. Notre Dame could calm the expansion seas considerably by capitulating and joining the Big Ten, but that doesn’t appear imminent. “I always thought this would play out over the summer,” said Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbrick. “This (recent reports about conference realignments) reaffirms it more than it changes it … I expect whatever change will happen will occur in the next 45 to 60 days.”

“45 to 60 days”? Nebraska doesn’t have that many hours!

So, does Nebraska take the leap of faith, dumping the Big 12 on the promise (hope? assumption?) that Big Ten membership awaits? I cannot believe that Tom Osborne would make such a move unless he was supremely confident that Nebraska would be invited to participate in the Big Ten.

That being said … how would an announcement by the Cornhuskers of their intent to defect affect the rest of the conference?

Missouri, as noted below, has its own set of meetings scheduled for Thursday and Friday. Long considered a front-runner for Big Ten membership, the Tigers seem to be fading a bit. The ESPN report states that “Missouri appears to be falling down the list of priorities for the Big Ten”, while Orangebloods.com is reporting that an athletic director “with knowledge of the Big Ten” has told that website, “Missouri is getting the cold shoulder from the Big Ten.”

So, what if Notre Dame stays independent, and the Big Ten expands by only one school … Nebraska?

Nebraska has been the linchpin for Texas, according to multiple reports. If Missouri and/or Colorado bolt, the Longhorns’ preference would be to maintain its status as the big dog in the Big 12. But if Nebraska leaves, it’s time for Texas to make its deal with the Pac-10.

Of importance to the other players in the expansion lottery is that Texas A&M and Texas boards will be meeting on Thursday. The reason for the meeting is for the two schools to present a united front (Texas A&M, at different times, has flirted with the SEC), as well as to discuss the Baylor v. Colorado issue.

There has been much discussion on the internet about the various merits of having either Baylor or Colorado in your conference. Neill Woelk of the Daily Camera gave a spirited defense of the Buffs in his column today but the arguments are, if you don’t mind the pun, academic. As I have noted before, it has less to do with academic performance or athletic prowess, and more to do with what Texas wants. Would Cal, or any other Pac-10 school which didn’t want Baylor in their conference, kill the deal with Texas on principle? You would like to think that the Pac-10 would like to maintain its image as the “Conference of Champions”, but it seems that even Pac-10 members get blinded by the overpowering light of the dollars being flashed before them. As one writer put it – “If Texas wants Stephen F. Austin (to join the Pac-10), it’ll be Stephen F. Austin”.

Colorado remains in a very precarious position. Kansas, Iowa State, and Kansas State are already looking at the post-Big 12 landscape (Mountain West Conference? Conference USA? A rebuilt Big 12?). Schools like Texas Tech and Oklahoma, on the other hand, get to go along for the ride in the wake of big brother Texas. Colorado, meanwhile, could have

1) the perfect scenario: Colorado and Utah to the Pac-12 / Nebraska shut out of a BCS conference;

2) a good scenario: CU part of the Pac-16, but in a four-team “pod” with Oklahoma State and the Arizona schools;

3) an “at least we’re in the BCS scenario”: CU part of the Pac-16, but stuck playing in a division with Texas and Oklahoma, with most seasons ending well short of conference title participation;

4) a decent fall-back scenario: Colorado to the Mountain West, but with enough other decent schools (the other Big 12 refugees, Boise State, Fresno State) to make up a 16-team conference which has a place at the BCS table; to

5) the worst case scenario: Colorado to the Mountain West with little help. Colorado is lowered in stature and prestige to the level of Colorado State, UNLV, and San Diego State. More wins, perhaps, but far less income from television, and almost no chance at a national title.

It’s a big fall from scenario No. 1 to scenario No. 5, but, as we stand today, all five are still in play.

Colorado Regents – “We have to see how it unfolds”

The Board of Regents took no official action at last night’s meeting, and there were no official pronouncements. “Right now, we’re committed members of the Big 12”, said spokesman Ken McConnellogue. “There’s a lot of publicity and discussion in the media about what’s going to happen,” said Steve Bosley, chairman of the Board of Regents. “Our legal team advised us of all of our options, and we have to see how it unfolds. It is a moving target.”

There was one nice little dig at all of the public lobbying being done by Baylor officials about being included in the Pac-10 expansion. “I think the fact that our Board of Regents is meeting and having discussions about this shows that the university is engaged,” said McConnellogue. “Are we engaged in a public way with lawmakers? No. Baylor is doing what Baylor needs to do.” Take that, Buff bashers!

So, for the moment – and I emphasize “moment” – Coloado is out of the national spotlight. This is not altogether a bad thing. First, because it allows the Buffs to continue to work behind the scenes to get the best deal possible for the university. Second, there is a report that the APR results are coming out today (Wednesday), and that Colorado will be losing scholarships in both football and basketball. While this is not unexpected (APR results are a rolling four year average, so the football team went without scholarships last year in anticipation of this announcement), the announcement will be more ammunition for the Baylor “We are better than CU” contingent. For now, it may best to say nothing – until there is something to say.

Meanwhile … Nebraska is back on the front-burner

It is being reported by several sources that Nebraska’s decision to stay with the Big 12, or cast it’s lot with the Big Ten, could come as early as this Friday. The consensus seems to be that Nebraska is leaning toward joining the Big Ten, but won’t do so without an invitation, or at least assurances that an invitation will be forthcoming. As the Big Ten has not moved from its “12-18 month” timetable (December, 2010 – June, 2011) , Nebraska could be in a very precarious position – responsible for blowing up the Big 12, yet without a place to land if the Big Ten gets Notre Dame and shuts its doors to further expansion.

“I think before too long – I don’t know exactly what the timeframe is – we’ll be able to put this to bed,” said Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne Tuesday, adding, “because I’m getting tired of it.”

Administrative meetings are scheduled at both Nebraska and Missouri later this week, with the Nebraska Board of Regents meeting on Friday, and the Board of Curators at Missouri set to meet Thursday and Friday. While agendas for these meetings are not fully disclosed, it has been noted that the Board of Curators will meet in closed session upon convening on Thursday, and that such a move is unusual.

More throughout the day on this fluid story as information becomes available …

June 10th

COLORADO INVITED TO BECOME 11th MEMBER OF THE PAC-10!

It was just a scant 63 years ago when the University of Colorado ditched the Mountain States (Skyline) Conference to join the newly formed Big Seven Conference (which had been the Big Six until the Buffs changed the math). In 1947, Colorado played to a 3-3 conference record in the Mountain States Conference, beating BYU, Colorado State, and Wyoming, but falling to Utah, Denver, and Utah State. The following year, Colorado went 2-3 in its first season in the Big Seven, defeating Nebraska and Kansas State, but falling to Kansas, Iowa State, and Missouri (it wasn’t until 1950 that Colorado and the other member of the Big Seven, Oklahoma, could schedule conference games).

In 2012, Colorado will once again, after 65 years, shift conference opponents, once again taking a step up in competition and national prestige.

“The University of Colorado is a perfect match – academically and athletically – with the Pac-10,” said Colorado president Bruce D. Benson. Chimed in Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott, “The University of Colorado is a great fit for the Conference, both academically and athletically, and we are incredibly excited to welcome Colorado to the Pac-10”.

“On behalf of the University of Colorado students, faculty, alumni and fans, we are proud to accept this invitation from the Pac-10, and join the most prestigious academic and athletic conference in the nation,” said CU-Boulder chancellor Philip P. DiStefano.

Discussion concerning Colorado joining the Pac-10 has been going on for several decades. It almost happened in 1994, when a narrow vote by the Board of Regents rejected an offer to join the Pac-10 conference. This time, however, the Board of Regents was on board. At Tuesday night’s meeting, the Board of Regents gave Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn the go-ahead to secure an invitation to the Pac-10, and the deal was finalized on Wednesday.

Now Colorado coaches, with 23 Californians on the roster (compared to three Texans), can start to recruit more heavily in California … or can they?

Still to be determined over the next few days,weeks, months, and years, is how many teams will wind up in the Pac-10, and how conference games will be scheduled. If Colorado ends up in the Pac-16 East, with Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Texas, Arizona State and Arizona, and if every teams plays every other team in their division, that’s seven games out of an eight or nine game conference schedule. That does not leave many trips to the states of California, Oregon, and Washington left available to schedule.

But we’re getting ahead of ourselves.

For now, just sit back and savor the joy that comes with knowing that Colorado will not be relegated to the Mountain West Conference. Enjoy the knowledge that, for all of the crowing coming out of Waco that Baylor was a better choice for the Pac-10, it was Colorado that the Pac-10 wanted.

In 1947, Colorado made the right choice, jumping into the Big Seven, even though that meant leaving a conference it had dominated (five titles; three second place finishes in 11 seasons in the Mountain States Conference), to take on the opportunity to square off with national powerhouse Oklahoma on an annual basis.

In 2010, Colorado again made the right choice.

Meanwhile …

Now that Colorado has pre-empted the “Texas four pack” discussion, what is next for the Big 12, the Big Ten, the SEC? The Mountain West … ?

Nebraska to the Big Ten

Multiple sources are reporting that Nebraska has, in fact, been extended an invitation to join the Big Ten, and that an announcement that the Cornhuskers are leaving the Big 12 (now 11) to join the Big Ten (which will now have 12 teams) will be made Friday. There is the possibility that the Big Ten might stop there, awaiting further developments (read: hoping to add Notre Dame) before moving any further. “It’s going to happen (Nebraska to the Big Ten), unless something crazy happens in the final hours,” said a source from the Big Ten.

The loss of Nebraska has been widely reported as bringing an end to the Big 12, as Texas A&M, Texas, Oklahoma State, Oklahoma, and Texas Tech are to be extended invitations to the Pac-10, essentially gutting the conference.

But …

Texas A&M to the SEC?

Texas A&M and Texas officials met today (Thursday) to discuss options. Presumably, the two major Texas state schools in play in the conference realignment shuffle wanted to get together to present a unified front, with the speculation being that once Nebraska officially left the Big 12, that they would bolt for the Pac-10.

But … Orangebloods.com (no, I don’t care much for Chip Brown personally, either, but he was the one who broke the “six teams – including Colorado – to the Pac-10 story”, so he does have credibility) is reporting that Texas A&M is seriously considering looking east instead of west, and is looking into joining the SEC instead of the Pac-10. One particular member of the Texas A&M Board of Regents is being particularly vocal about his wishes to go with the SEC. It’s none other than Gene Stallings, who led the Alabama Crimson Tide the to the national championship in 1992. Also adding fuel to the speculation that Texas A&M is having reservations about joining the Pac-10 are the comments made last week by Texas A&M athletic director Bill Byrne, when Byrne publicly expressed his dislike of having his teams travel long distances to the west for conference play (Byrne, ironically enough, used to be the athletic director at Oregon).

SEC Commissioner Mike Slive is reportedly working behind the scenes to get the two Texas schools to join the SEC, but is having a hard time with Texas, which is reportedly not that excited about joining the already powerful SEC.

There is also the possibility that the remaining ten Big 12 schools might try and make a go of stay together as a conference (the best scenario for Colorado!). This might particularly be true if the Big Ten stops with Nebraska and – at least for now – does not immediately extend an invitation to Missouri.

Pac-11?

While the Texas schools (along with Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) wait for the formal announcement that Nebraska is leaving the conference, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott has hinted that his conference might just cap its expansion – for now – at 11.

Let that one sink in for a moment.

Baylor

Thursday, the Baylor Bears officially joined the ranks of the Big 12 also-rans, joining Kansas State, Iowa State, and Kansas on the island of misfit schools. “It’s probably 90 percent sure that the other Texas schools are gone (to the Pac-10),” said one Baylor official. “but we have to hold onto that 10 percent that something could change.”

Considering how poorly the Baylor alumni and fans treated Colorado – when no one in Boulder earning a paycheck from the University said anything bad about the Bears – it makes the October 16th matchup in Boulder a much more enticing affair.

What’s a Commissioner to do?

As for Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, he remained upbeat, even as his conference disintegrated around him. “I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our Board of Directors,” said Beebe in a prepared statement, “and are working tirelessly towards the long term viability of the Big 12.”

An argument could be made that Beebe did all he could to preserve the Big 12, and that there was nothing he could have done to prevent the disintegration of his conference … but I’ll wait for someone to convince me. Texas set the rules for revenue distribution, the conference championship, in case you didn’t notice last week, found a permanent (if now time-limited) home in Dallas, and the Big 12 offices have moved south.

Thanks for the memories, Dan, and farewell.

Program Note:

There will be much to discuss (CU press conference, 11:00 a.m. Friday) as the next few days unfold. Will Nebraska, as expected, join the Big Ten? Will the five teams from the Big 12 South not named Baylor join the Pac-10? What will Colorado have to pay in penalties, if any, for leaving the Big 12? Will Texas A&M decline to join the Pac-10, opening the door for another school to join the conference, like say Utah, or even Kansas?

There will be much to write about in coming days and weeks, but for now, as noted above, it’s time to sit back and relax. Like the existing members of the Pac-10, Big Ten, and SEC, the University of Colorado no longer has to worry about the game of musical chairs being played out in the world of college football …

… the Buffs have found a home!

“Source: Colorado already has Pac-10 invite”

Such is the headline on ESPN this morning.

“Colorado has received an invitation to join the conference, while five other invitations will be extended to Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, and Texas Tech, according to a source familiar with the negotiations.”

An unidentified Big 12 football coach said that the Pac-10 favored Colorado over Baylor due to the desire to attract the Denver television market.

The article goes on to state that, in the event that Nebraska opts to leave the Big 12, but is rebuffed by the Big Ten, that the Pac-10 might stop at 12 teams, and might invite Nebraska to join its league.

How much would Colorado fans love that? Get to play in the Pac-12, avoid having Texas and Oklahoma on the conference schedule, get several trips to the west coast (read: recruiting!), and be able to lord over Nebraska fans that it was Colorado which paved the way for little ‘ol Nebraska to find a new home.

To paraphrase Bill McCartney: “That would be as sweet as it gets!”.

Of course, there will be more later today … stay tuned!

June 11th

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott: Adding Colorado a “bold first step”

“I think history will recognize and reward the bold first step that we’ve made together,” said Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott at the press conference held Friday at Folsom Field to announce the acceptance of Colorado as the first new member of the Pac-10 since 1978. “While the Pac-10 is known for its storied history and traditions academically and athletically, I think we’re also going to be known for leading the way into the future.”

On a beautiful day in Boulder, with the Flatirons as a backdrop, the University of Colorado accepted its invitation to join the Pac-10 conference. Colorado President Bruce Benson, Chancellor Phil DiStefano, and athletic director Mike Bohn were on hand to welcome a delegation from the Pac-10, including commissioner Larry Scott. The common theme of the speeches was that Colorado was a “perfect fit” for the Pac-10, with special emphasis made on the academic virtures Colorado brings to the table. Seven of ten universities in the Pac-10 are members of the American Association of Universities. “That will make eight of 11”, said Scott. “We’re very proud of that.”

While noting that the Pac-10 is the “Conference of Champions” – the Pac-10 has 380 NCAA titles, 150 more than any other conference – Larry Scott did note that Colorado was bringing to the table 21 national championships. Of course, all but four of those titles are in skiing, which Scott joked was the latest sport to be added to the Pac-10’s list of accomplishments.

The lack of “Olympic sports” at Colorado was brought up at the press conference, and did make Colorado officials squirm just a bit. Athletic Director Mike Bohn noted that it was 30 years ago – to the day – that Colorado athletics suffered its blackest day, when a number of sports were cut, including baseball, wrestling, and gymnastics. While not promising any increase in non-revenue sports at Colorado, chancellor DiStefano did acknowledge it was being discussed. “I think as we look to the future, we should be thinking about adding sports,” DiStefano said. “Baseball is one I would like to see; although the weather here in the spring isn’t always conducive towards playing baseball.”

In a nice gesture from the Buffs’ new partners, the Pac-10 delegation brought Libby Wright, the Chairman of the Rose Bowl Management Committee. Ms. Wright brought roses for everyone at the podium, and stated, “We are thrilled to be here today and be part of this announcement.”

There was one good laugh at the press conference which might not make it to the morning papers. Chancellor DiStefano was discussing the already long and storied history involving Colorado and members of the Pac-10. DiStefano noted that Colorado had played Stanford in football all the way back in 1904. DiStefano then said, “I should probably ask Dave Plati if he knows the score of that game …”, at which time Plati, in the background, said “33-0, Stanford”. To laughter, DiStefano then said that he should probably have asked Dave about the result in private before he started his remarks.

Nebraska pulls the trigger

In a much anticipated move, the Board of Regents at the University of Nebraska voted Friday to apply for membership in the Big Ten Conference. Nebraska Chancellor Harvey Perlman said that the move offered stability “that the Big 12 simply cannot offer.” The move will not be official until the Big Ten presidents give their approval, but that is expected to merely be a formality.

Two items of note from the Nebraska announcement:

First, both Perlman and athletic director Tom Osborne went out our their way to say, in essence, “the implosion of the Big 12 isn’t our fault”. Perlman noted that Nebraska’s leaving did not require the dissolution of the Big 12. “One school leaving a conference does not destroy a conference”, Perlman said. “Nebraska did not start this discussion. After the Big Ten announced it planned to consider expansion, we saw reports that Missouri would want to go to the Big Ten, including a statement from their governor, a member of the board of curators, and chancellor – comments that were clearly not supportive of the Big 12.” Osborne agreed. “As we read the tea leaves and listened to conversations, some of the schools that were urging us to stay,” Osborne said. “We found some of them had talked to not only one other conference or two but even three, and those were the same ones urging us to stay.”

Me thinks Dr. Tom doth protest too much …

The other interesting tidbit came when chancellor Perlman indicated that Nebraska was proposing to begin play in the Big Ten in 2011, a year earlier than most projections have the move being finalized. This proposal, if it can be worked out with other conferences and schools, would mean that Nebraska would not make a final trip to Boulder Thanksgiving weekend next year.

At the Colorado press conference Friday, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott was asked about the Buffs starting conference play in 2011. “We do not foresee that moving up (the 2012 timetable for Colorado to join the Pac-10), but if it did, if there are some things that happen within the Big 12 that necessitated us starting things earlier in 2011, we are prepared to do that as well.”

So, what about Missouri?

Remember back in the good old days, say … three week ago? When “Missouri to the Big Ten” was main topic of conversation with regard to expansion?

What happened? Well, the Missouri curators met the end of this week, but with much less fanfare than the meeting of the Nebraska Board of Regents. There was no vote to join the Big Ten. There was no reason to – Missouri doesn’t have an invitation to accept.

“We have obligations to our Big 12 Conference, first and foremost,” said Missouri system president Gary Forsee. What?

“We are trying to be patient,” said board chairman Judy Haggard. “We are committed to the Big 12 at this time.” Really?

Go back and re-read those quotes, and see if you can do it without at least a smirk coming across your face. Go ahead, I dare you.

Puh-lease. Scroll down to May 14th on this very page (I know I’ve written a lot since then, but trust me, it’s down there), and you will see the following, under the heading: Missouri governor on joining the Big Ten: “We should look at it if it’s offered”

This is not the first time the Missouri governor has snubbed his counterparts in the Big 12. Last December, when asked about Big Ten expansion, Nixon put his foot in it. “I’m not going to say anything bad about the Big 12,” Nixon said just before he did just that,” but when you compare Oklahoma State to Northwestern; when you compare Texas Tech to Wisconsin, I mean, you being looking at educational possibilities that are worth looking at.”

Ouch (of course, the slam doesn’t sting for Colorado fans – we’re in the AAU).

Nixon wasn’t finished. “If a significant conference, with a long history of academic and athletic excellence, talks to you about joining them,” said Nixon, “you shouldn’t say, ‘We’re from the old Big Eight and I remember when’ … If they want to talk, we should talk. We should listen.”

Now, with Nebraska and Colorado gone, and no Big Ten invitation for Missouri in sight, Tiger athletic director Mike Alden said Friday, “We aren’t looking at any other conference”.

With Colorado’s administrators popping the bubbly this weekend, pulling off a coup many other schools across the nation would die to have right now (including Missouri, Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, and Baylor) you almost have to feel sorry for Missouri.

Almost.

11’s across the board

Welcome to June 11th, where the college football world, at least for a few moments, is perfectly aligned for the University of Colorado – 11 members in the Pac-10; 11 members in the Big 12; and 11 members in the Big Ten.

Just don’t look for the perfect alignment to last.

By June 12th, the Big Ten is expected to have 12 members, as Nebraska is expected to announced Friday that it has accepted an invitation to join that league. The Nebraska Board of Regents is meeting today, and every indication is that the Cornhuskers have been extended an invitation, and that they have accepted.

The conventional wisdom has been that if Nebraska left the Big 12, that the conference would come to an end, with five of the six Big 12 South schools opting to head west to play in the Pac-10. However, two scenarios remain in which that might not happen. First, there is still a chance, especially if Missouri is not offered admission to the Big Ten, that the Big 12 could stay together. The athletic directors for both Texas and Texas A&M have stated that this would be their preference, but, with a conference already heavily weighted toward Texas, the loss of Nebraska and Colorado would only diminish the clout of the Big 12 in terms of television revenue. “It’s on life support,” said one source about the Big 12, “but people have come off life support before.”

There is also the chance – which seems to be picking up steam of late – that Texas A&M may opt for playing in the SEC. According to sources, A&M regent Gene Stallings (see below), A&M system chancellor Mike McKinney, and former coach R.C. Slocum have been pushing for A&M to go east instead of west. The problem for the Aggies is that Texas has no interest in the SEC, and if A&M split off from their big brother, the Longhorns would retaliate by cutting off all contests between the two schools (and it would be tough to be an Aggie, where the school song is all about beating tu, to just dump that history).

Still, there is time for those hoping to keep the Big 12 together, or for other moves to be made. It was announced on Friday morning that the University of Texas regents will meet on Tuesday, “for discussion and appropriate action regarding athletic conference membership”.

So, the Big 12 lives on – at least for four more days …

June 12th

Buffs doing it right

For an athletic department not having much in way of success of late – four straight losing seasons by the football team, not much better success on the basketball court, and facing a week in which it was announced that Colorado (and Colorado alone amongst 1-A teams)  would be losing football scholarships due to poor APR scores – the administration sure had a good week.

When the week opened, Baylor alumni and supporters were in full “Bash the Buffs” mode. Prominent Austin lobbyist and Baylor regent Buddy Jones launched a campaign to have Baylor included in any Pac-16 discussion, to the exclusion of Colorado. “My guess is that Colorado hasn’t taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet, and they may be well on the invite list,” Jones said in an email to Baylor alumni and supporters last weekend. “I hope I’m wrong. But there’s still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren’t through.”

In another email, Jones urged alumni in the Texas legislature to contact officials from Texas, Texas A&M, and Texas Tech, providing them talking points on how to lobby for Baylor’s inclusion. “It is imperative that whatever happens, the four Texas schools (and hopefully Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) agree to stick together”.

Meanwhile, there was silence out of Boulder. Buff fans worried that Colorado was on the verge of being left behind, and was doing nothing to stop the move to relegate the Buffs to the Mountain West Conference.

Instead, behind the scenes, Buff administrators were doing it right – they were doing it behind the scenes. Work was being done. The Regents convened on Tuesday, and gave unanimous consent to joining the Pac-10. Negotiations continued, and, on Thursday, it was time to make the announcement.

On Friday, Colorado continued to do it “the right way”. Buff administrators met Pac-10 officials, including commissioner Larry Scott, at the Rocky Mountain Metropolitan Airport – aboard a CU bus. “It’s been a very structured process, and a lot of business and a lot of serious discussion, so it was an opportunity to really show what makes college sports so great,” explained athletic director Mike Bohn. “It’s the mascots, coaches, student-athletes. That’s what it’s about.”

Colorado also drove home the importance of the day to its visitors with its delegation. In addition to administrators, the bus carried former CU head coach Bill McCartney and former Buff – and now College Football Hall of Fame inductee – Alfred Williams. Colorado governor Bill Ritter also made an appearance.

Larry Scott was impressed.

“That was an amazing reception, and it blew us away,” said Scott at the press conference, not looking at all that he was saying so because his pre-pared notes told him to. “To see the support that was there and then to see the governor change his schedule at the last minute to greet us really was overwhelming. Just to see the level of importance that decisions like this have … It’s fascinating. It really gives me a great feeling of what we’re doing.”

Now, the hard work begins. Whether the Buffs are part of a Pac-12 or a Pac-16, regardless of whether the Buffs play in a six team division, an eight team divison, or a four team pod, it will be hard not to see Colorado as underdogs in almost every matchup they face.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” said Ceal Barry, former women’s basketball coach and present administrator. “We’ve had some good and some bad years in the last 13 years, and I think it’s a great opportunity to set our standards a little bit higher; a standard of excellence, and to have that expectation from the top down.”

“The school can be successful, and its proven out in the past, it’s just not successful now,” said former quarterback Joel Klatt. “So, I believe that this gives them the kind of shot in the arm that it takes to go and really get something going.”

Reality returns September 4th, when the 3-9 Buffs take on the 3-9 Rams, to see which team is ready to make 2010 better than 2009.

For now, though, reality is 2 1/2 months away.

For today, the Buffs and their fans can revel in the knowledge that the Colorado administration did it right, and came out winners as a result.

Texas, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State to join Pac-10 next week

The Dallas Morning News and the Austin Statesmen are reporting that four more schools will be offered membership into the Pac-10 next week, with Texas A&M remaining “on the fence” between joining the Pac-10 and the SEC.

“The decision has been made,” said what was quoted as being a “highly placed anonymous official from a Big 12 school”. “We’re bringing everybody to the Pac-10 but A&M”. Official offers are to be made this weekend, with Texas leading the way to acceptance after their Board of Regents meeting on Tuesday.

In essence, then, Texas A&M has three days to decide if they want to go with the Pac-10, or opt to try their luck with the SEC. Potential replacements for A&M, should the Aggies look east instead of west include Kansas, Utah, and even Baylor.

June 14th

Texas announces that the Big 12/10 will play on

Given a sweet deal by Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe, Texas opted Monday to stay with the Big 12, declining an offer to join the Pac-10. Shortly after the announcement, Oklahoma, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State, and Texas A&M also pledged their allegiance to the reduced league.

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott announced that the Pac-10 would not be expanding into Texas. “University of Texas President Bill Powers has informed us that the ten remaining schools in the Big 12 conference intend to remain together,” said Scott. The wording of the announcement is telling. It was not Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe making the announcement, it was Texas president Bill Powers. If there was any remaining doubt as to the center of power in the reduced Big 12, it has now been eliminated.

So, what will Texas get for staying?

According to Orangebloods.com, Texas will make out the best from the new television contracts. The Longhorns will stand to earn $20 to $25 million in televison revenue, including their own television network, which could generate another $3 to $5 million. Oklahoma and Texas A&M will receive around $20 million.

The other seven schools? They get to come along for the ride for around $17 million per year.  Still, while Kansas State, Iowa State, Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Baylor stand to perhaps double their television revenue, you need to read between the lines.

Is this a boon to the Little Seven? Yes, they get to stay, for now, in a BCS conference (though one without a conference championship). And yes, the new television money promised will increase revenues.  But … every conference which has renegotiated its television contracts of late have reaped huge rewards – it’s the nature of the market.

What the Little Seven did to keep their BCS affilation, though, was sell their souls. The new “Big 12” will be the Texas conference. It will be all about the mighty Longhorns. The Little Seven have acknowledged as much in agreeing to an unequal distribution of revenues. For every extra dollar coming into their coffers, Texas gets an extra two. Even Texas A&M and Oklahoma, who would rather die than agree to wear burnt orange, have conceded that they are second class – above the Little Seven, but still second class.

What will happen to Colorado and the Pac-10?

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott would not comment on Texas deciding to decline the offer to join the Pac-10, but focus will now clearly shift to Utah. One of the goals of expansion for the Pac-10 was to add a revenue generating conference championship game. With 11 schools, the conference is still one team short. With the Texas schools out of the equation, there are few other options for the Pac-10. If Scott really wanted to stick it to Texas, he could still invite Kansas. That would give the Pac-12 a group of six natural rivals, and give the conference a basketball power. However, it would have made sense for Texas to secure a promise from Kansas to stay in the Big 12 if Texas declined the Pac-10’s offer.

If Utah does get the nod, the scenario Buff fans wanted most will come true. A 12-team conference with schools which are academically and athletically on par with the Buffs. There would be an issue of how the divisions would line up – Does Colorado/Utah go with the Arizona schools and the southern California schools? (probabaly not – Cal and Stanford probably would be against giving up an annual trip to Los Angeles – though this is exactly the scenario a Denver television station is reporting); Does Colorado/Utah go with the Arizona schools and the Washington schools?; or does Colorado/Utah go with the Washington and Oregon schools to form a division?

Interesting stuff. But, as we know, it’s not a great idea to get ahead of ourselves. We’ll have to see what Larry Scott will do. (Remember, Scott did, at one point last week, state that there was the option that the Pac-10 would stop at Colorado, but that was seen as a negotiating ploy. Now …. ?).

So, Colorado will be out some revenue …

Now that the Big 12/10 is staying together, the Buffs and Cornhuskers are going to owe some money to the rest of the league. Or, more precisely, go without 50% of the revenue Colorado and Nebraska would otherwise have received over the next two seasons.

How can the Buffs, who couldn’t afford to buy out $3 million of Dan Hawkins’ contract last fall, go without $8-$10 million over the next two years?

First, the choice to move to the Pac-10 was not just an athletic department decision, it was a University of Colorado decision. While the athletic department is always counting pennies, the University of Colorado, and its Foundation, have other resources. At worst, the athletic department could do what it did several years ago when the Gary Barnett contract was bought out – borrow the money from the University, and pay it back over time. With the additional revenue coming in from the Pac-10 contracts starting in 2012, this can easily be accomplished.

Will it hurt short term? Yes. The Buffs will be marked by Big 12 teams in competition the next two years, and it will be expensive to leave. Plus, a Pac-16 television contract would certainly have generated more dollars than a Pac-12 television contract.

But … and it is an important but … we are looking long term here. Long term, Colorado can and should be competitive with other teams in the Pac-12. Other than USC and Oregon (Nike), the Buffs are on par with the other schools in the league in terms of resources and capabilities. Colorado would never, EVER, have had that in a league with Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma, and Nebraska.

Especially in the new “Texas and the  nine dwarfs” conference.

It may not seem like it right now, but years from now, Colorado fans will be looking at the announcement today from Austin as a great day in Buff history.

Will Texas stay in the Big 12?

Orangebloods.com, which has been leading the way in breaking news concerning conference realignment, is reporting that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe has convinced Texas to stay in the Big 12.

The selling point? Texas would be able to pursue its own distribution platforms (read: television network), which would not be possible under any arrangement Texas would have as a member of the Pac-16. Beebe has got the votes of the Kansas schools, Missouri, Baylor, and Iowa State (what else are they going to do?), which seemingly puts the ball in the Court of Texas A&M. If the Aggies opt for the SEC, then the move of Texas Tech, Texas, and the Oklahoma schools, would seemingly be a foregone conclusion (along with Utah? perhaps Kansas?). After meeting with Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott (see below), Texas A&M was non-committal about joining the Pac-10. “Texas A&M continues to evaluate its options,” said A&M spokesman. “At this point, all options continue to be on the table.”

Texas A&M President R. Bowen Loftin  issued a statement Sunday night. “We are aggressively pursuing our options, one of which is to if for the Big 12 to continue in some form,” said Loftin. “We continue to evaluate our options in a deliberate manner as we work toward a decision that is in the best long-term interests of Texas A&M.”

Beebe’s plan to save the Big 12 …

… Increase television revenues in a new contract, from the present $7-$10 million, to $17 millon in 2012, when the new television contracts would begin;

… Divide up the approximately $20 million in revenue which would otherwise have gone to the defecting schools of Colorado and Nebraska; and

… allow schools (Texas) to pursue their own distribution networks, which would potentially be a huge windfall for the Longhorns.

Larry Scott on the move

The private jet that the Pac-10 commissioner rode to Boulder last Friday has been getting a workout. Over the weekend, Larry Scott started at Oklahoma City, where he presumably hand-delivered invitations to join the Pac-10 to Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. On Sunday, Scott arrived early in College Station, meeting with Texas A&M officials, before taking off for Lubbock and Texas Tech. Scott ended his day in Austin, at the hub of all that is being debated amongst the remaining members of what was the Big 12 South (except for, of course, Baylor).

Was it all for naught? Or will, as previously expected, Texas announce after its Tuesday Board of Regents’ meeting that the Longhorns are going to throw in with the Pac-10.

June 15th

It’s Utah!

The Utah Utes Rivals site is reporting that Utah has been invited to become the 12th member of the reconfigured Pac-12. While this has not been confirmed on any national site, I can tell you that the same story is being reported by the local Fox Sports News station, which covers the San Francisco area (I knew there was a good reason for us to be at Pebble Beach for the U.S. Open!).

This on a day when the nationally reported story is that Mountain West Conference commissioner Craig Thompson is being quoted as saying that he has not been contacted by Pac-10 commissioner about approaching Utah as a new Pac-10 team.

Buffs gone by 2011?

Rivals.com is reporting that Nebraska and Colorado may be out of the Big 12 as early as 2011. Last week, upon leaving the conference, Nebraska expressed its preference to leave for the Big Ten in 2011 instead of 2012, as Colorado had planned. In an interview with ESPN Austin, Big 12 commissioner stated that the Cornhuskers’ wish might come true. “The honest feeling that I have is it is difficult to have two years of competition with an institution that is going to be leaving,” said Beebe. “We’ll see about accomodating their interest.”

Last week, Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott indicated that the Pac-10 was looking at 2012, but “if there are some things within the Big 12 that necessitated us starting things earlier”, the Pac-10 would be prepared to take advantage of that opportunity.

June 16th

Utah to officially join Pac-12 Thursday

Utah associate athletic director Liz Abel indicated today (Wednesday) that Utah would not comment on the Utes being invited to become the 12th member of the Pac-10, but all signs point toward that coming on Thursday. The school’s board of Trustees will meet on Thursday to discuss the “school’s conference affiliation”. A news conference is scheduled for 1:00 p.m., following the board’s meeting. As the move would mean a step up into a BCS conference, and with no penalties for leaving the Mountain West Conference early, the result from the board of Trustees’ meeting appears to be a foregone conclusion.

Any regrets from Pac-10 country about landing “only” Colorado and Utah, and not Texas?

“We realized that there could be all kinds of complications in terms of pulling off such a bold move,” said Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott. “That’s why we moved first on Colorado as a beachhead, to put a stake in the ground to keep available other options that we’re very interested in in terms of expansion that might be more modest in nature.”

Should the Pac-10 have given Texas the megadeal the Big 12 gave the Longhorns? “My marching orders were clear,” said Scott. “There are essential principles and values the Pac-10 holds true to that we were not going to compromise as part of getting a deal done”. Translation: the Pac-10 members were not willing to sell their souls – as the Little Seven apparently have done – in order to have Texas as a league participant.

And Scott’s not done.

“If you want to say we’ve swung for the fences, we’re thrilled,” said Scott. “This is the second inning at best. You’ll start seeing this summer some of our other plans and innovations.”

One of these will be to get to work on the new Pac-12 television contract, including the real possibility of a Pac-10 network akin to the Big Ten Network. At the very least, the Pac-12 will be looking to meet or beat the $1.86 billion, 12-year deal the ACC recently signed with ESPN.

June 17th

Utah ends Pac-10 expansion … for now

“Today is an absolute great day to be a Ute”, said Utah athletic director Chris Hill in opening his press conference announcing the Utes’ acceptance to the invitation to joining the Pac-12.

“First and foremost, the reason this has happened is because the athletes that we’ve had at the University of Utah have worked so hard and done so much to put this program on the map,” said Utah football coach Kyle Whittingham. “That is really where the lion’s share of the credit go to.”

With the addition of Colorado and Utah, the Pac-12 has added the No. 16 (Denver) and No. 31 (Salt Lake City) television markets. While Colorado has been down in football of late, there are few who doubt the Buffs’ potential to rebound. Utah faces no such problem in terms of present credentials. The Utes are 69-13 in the past seven seasons, better than any Pac-10 team not named USC, and have posted two undefeated seasons. Utah fans can also point out that the Utes have gone 7-3 in their last ten games against Pac-10 foes.

All that is left for the Pac-10 to decide is:

1) what to call itself – with the Pac-12 all but a given;

2) decide how to divide up its conference into two divisions acceptable to all parties. Reports have the Utah/Colorado pair going with USC/UCLA and the Arizona schools, (but I’m still not convinced it will happen);

3) decide on what to do with a championship game – where to have it, for one –  assuming that there will be one.  After all, part of the lure of expansion was to obtain the extra revenue a conference championship would bring. But the Big 12, left with only ten teams, is seemingly content going without a championship game, and the new Big Ten/12 is said to be thinking about going without a title game; and

4) how to generate all that extra television revenue expansion promised.

At least Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott can now stop with the frequent flyer mile accumulation, and get down to the business of taking care of the above issues …

… For more expansion coverage from 2010, including SEC and Big Ten expansion, Big 12 and Mountain West contraction, and how BYU became an independent, you can read more stories from the summer of 2010 here … 

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4 Replies to “Ten Years Ago: CU joins the Pac-10”

  1. I never did think Texas would go anywhere while they were the really big dog in he Big 12. So big it was part of the motivation for other teams to leave.
    I also thought the time to decide ultimatum given to Nebraska was no more than a bluff.
    and
    I will always hate Baylor (never did like them anyway or any organized religion with big money) for their childish attack act on the Buffs. Christians my dyin a–. Then there is Ken Starr who prosecuted Clinton for consensual sex when they couldn’t find any whitewater dirt and then hid rapists when he was the pres at Baylor.
    At first I was hesitant to approve the move out of the big 12 probably from sort of twisted dedication to tradition even though I really didnt enjoy going to away games at mostly dried and fried up spots on the prairie.
    I still have yet to attend an away game in the PAC 12 but I now think it was he absolute right move. Now lets see if Scott or his looming successor can get the PAC on better financial ground.

  2. This just reminded me of Baylor fans down here in Austin and how they were acting like idiots telling me Baylor would be in the PAC 12 because there Texas would snub them if they did. The Texas fans were blaming Colorado and Nebraska for the break up. They just couldn’t get it through their pea brains that they started this crap by trying to dictate how the conference was run and what the economics of the conference should be.

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