To B (12) or Not to B (12): Pros and Cons of CU Returning to the Big 12

NoteThis essay was first posted on June 11th, as talk about San Diego State joining the Pac-12, and the June 30th deadline to get everything done seemed real. On Friday, I will have a new essay on my thoughts about CU rejoining the Big 12, assuming all the reports prove accurate, and an announcement is made Thursday afternoon … 

Stop me if you heard this one before: The Pac-12 media revenue contract announcement is imminent, and the “Pac-10” is going to stay together.

Really, they mean it this time.

This past week, it was reported that the ten remaining Pac-12 schools have agreed to equal sharing of media-rights revenue with performance-based distribution of College Football Playoff revenue as part of a new Grant of Rights deal. This is being seen as the necessary first step toward a media revenue contract announcement … and the preservation of the conference.

“My prediction is that we’re all going to stay together as a Pac-12”, said Arizona President Bobby Robbins. “There’s 10 of us right now. I’m hopeful that the deal is going to be good enough to keep us together.”

Robbins said he’s not frustrated that there hasn’t been financial clarity on what the television deal could look like. He joked that he’s not nervous, based on his career as a surgeon.

“I’m not anxious about this,” Robbins said. “I know it’s important. I have full confidence we’re going to get where we need to be.”

Washington State president Kirk Schulz, meanwhile, told the school’s regents on Friday that he expects to have a resolution by the end of the month.

“I never thought we would still be in June negotiating and working with our media partners about what that final deal’s going to be,” he said. “There is that out there, and at least the projections that [athletic director Pat Chun] and I and others have seen, I’m not sure if know if will be a lot larger than we saw the past, it shouldn’t be a lot smaller than the past, it may be fairly flat. But when we add the football playoff dollars on top of that, we should see a nice bump in revenue.”

Robbins, who has been the president at Arizona since 2017, has been publicly confident in the future of the Pac-12. In public statements in March, Robbins said he expected the new Pac-12 deal to be consummated in a few weeks. This past week, he reiterated that the reality is that the conference could still finish ahead of deals by the Big 12 and ACC.

“We’re not going to get a Big Ten deal or an SEC deal,” Robbins said. “… If we win a bronze medal, I think we’ll all declare victory and move on.”

The magic number seems to be the $31.7 million Big 12 teams will be receiving each year to start its new media contract. Most analysts don’t believe that the Pac-12 will finish with the third-best media contract (which would still be well behind the Big Ten and SEC). Most analysts are predicting that the Pac-12 will get a media deal somewhere within ten percent or so of what Big 12 teams will be getting.

If that proves true – if the Pac-12 contract comes in somewhere in the $30 million range – will it be enough to keep the Pac-10 together?

With the consensus that the Big Ten won’t be shopping for new additions until the end of the decade, speculation of realignment this June has come to center on the University of Colorado, and whether the Buffs will be bolting the weakened Pac-10 for the relative stability of the Big 12.

Colorado athletic director Rick George, for his part, has issued the standard non-denial denial: “We’re members of the Pac-12, we’re proud members of the Pac-12 and we’ve got to see where our media rights deal lands and where our conference goes”, George said recently. “In a perfect world, we’d love to be in the Pac-12, but we also have to do what’s right for Colorado at the end of the day. We’ll evaluate things as we move forward.”

A betting site,, has established CU as the betting favorite to be the next team to join the Big 12, with oddsmakers giving the Buffs a 28.6% chance of heading back to the Big 12 (Arizona is second, at 20%; with Memphis third at 13.3%).

So, what would it take for Colorado to move back to the Big 12? Or, perhaps the better question: How bad would things have to be with the new Pac-10 media contracts to make it worth it for CU to run away from a dying conference?

Some pros and cons of CU to moving back to Big 12 …

Pro … The money – and exposure – would likely be better. It has been reported that ESPN and Fox have communicated to the Big 12 that if there are any additions to the conference, that the new teams will receive an equal share of revenue distribution. In other words, CU would receive the same $31.7 as the other schools. There would be no dilution of revenue for the conference by cutting the pie into smaller pieces – there would just be a bigger pie.

The Buffs would also be easier to find on Game Day with the Big 12. While the media partners for the Pac-12’s new contract remain a mystery, there is plenty of speculation that streaming will be a big part of the new deal. So, would Buff fans rather see CU on ESPN2 … or on YouTube?

Con … The argument for Colorado leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12 in the first place was that the Pac-12 was a “better fit” for CU. Academically, there is no debate. The Pac-12 is full of fellow AAU schools. The Big 12? Not so much. The alumni base in the Pac-12 footprint is also significantly broader than it is within the Big 12. While there are a number of CU alumni in Texas, those numbers pale in comparison to the number of former Buffs who hail from California. There are also plenty of Buffs who call Arizona, Washington and Oregon home. Kansas, Iowa and Oklahoma? Not so much.

Pro … Conference leadership in the Big 12 has run circles around  what has passed for “leadership” in the Pac-12. While the Pac-12 continues to reel from the mistakes of the Larry Scott regime (with the latest announcements that the Comcast debacle and the move of the Pac-12 offices out of San Francisco will cost the Pac-12 members even more than previously thought), the Big 12 has a bold an audacious leader in commissioner Brett Yormark. Yormark put the Pac-12 behind the 8-ball in television negotiations by leap-frogging the Pac-12 and securing a media rights deal a year ahead of schedule. Now there are fewer dollars out there, and the Pac-12 is in desperation mode.

And Yormark has not been shy when it comes to expanding the Big 12 brand. Four new teams – BYU, Houston, UCF and Cincinnati – are joining the conference this year, and Yormark has often been quoted in stating that he is not done in looking for new opportunities. So, while the Pac-12 is scrambling to stay together, the Big 12 is surging forward.

Con … If Colorado returned to the Big 12, the Buffs would become the first Power Five team to change conferences … and then change back. What’s more, the Buffs would be crawling back with their tails between their legs. The Pac-12 has been an undeniable failure for the Buffs, with one winning season in 11 full seasons in the conference. Even if CU were to be successful in the new Big 12, the albatross of having been a failure in the Pac-12 would continue to haunt the program.

Pro … While many of the big rivals for CU have moved on from the Big 12, many historic rivals remain. There is no Nebraska, Oklahoma, or Texas, but there is Oklahoma State, Kansas State, Iowa State and Kansas from the old Big 8, together with Texas Tech and Baylor from the old Big 12. CU has a much longer history with these schools than any of the Pac-12 teams not named Utah.

Con … The Big 12 may be on its way to becoming a national conference, there is very little there – even with the new four teams – in terms of a national brand. Come 2024, almost half of the Big 12 will be made up of teams which were G5 schools in the recent past.

Twenty years ago, CU was in the Top 15 in all-time victories. The Buffs have slipped to No. 30 on the all-time list … but that would still be higher than any of the other teams in the new Big 12. After CU at 30th, the next best team the Big 12 has to offer is TCU, at No. 39 (Cincinnati is at No. 44; Oklahoma State is next at No. 56). CU could potentially be a big fish in a little pond … but would it be enough to garner national relevance?

Pro … Recruiting is the lifeblood of college football, and Texas is one of the hotbeds of national recruiting. Oh, and this just in … Coach Prime is a Texas resident, and, as a Super Bowl winning Dallas Cowboy, is a living legend in the Lone Star state. There have been some reports that Coach Prime is lobbying for CU to join the Big 12 in order to assist him in future recruiting in Texas, but it would be short-sighted of CU athletic director Rick George to cater to the needs of a current coach at the potential expense of the future of the program.

Bottom line … It would be a bad look for CU to unilaterally move to the Big 12. If CU and Arizona make a joint announcement that they are leaving for the Big 12, or if the media contracts are so unpalatable that the future of the Pac-12 is brought into question, the move could be justified.

Otherwise, CU’s best hope for a successful future is in the revamped Pac-12. Hopefully, there will be expansion, even if the conference just adds San Diego State and goes with 11 teams.

Of course, what really matters is how well the Coach Prime experiment works. The next round of musical chairs will come at the end of the decade, and CU wants to have a chair when the music stops. If Deion Sanders stays with the program, and has even moderate success (defined as winning seasons and bowl bids from Year Two forward), then Colorado would be well positioned for what comes next, whether the Buffs are in the Pac-12 or the Big 12.

If CU announces that it is heading back to the Big 12, I’ll quickly get on board, and cheer for the Buffs to return to their glory days enjoyed while playing in the midwest.

I’d just prefer to see the Buffs find their way to success as a member of the Pac-12.


39 Replies to “Pros and Cons of CU Returning to the Big 12”

  1. I see a bunch of folks including Kizla saying CU’s move to the PAC in 2011 was just wrong–blame that. I see a bunch saying UCLA, USC, CU and maybe whoever leaves will bring down the PAC, which I do not think is true. There are those saying CU is leaving academics behind. I do feel for our alums, sponsors, and donors on the West Coast, and hope we can bring them back into the fold. Maybe for CU winning, excitement, and holding onto Prime cures all ills.

    I don’t think that CU’s move was necessary wrong in 2011, however a ton of things converged to pick away at the PAC one-by-one, year-by-year, including a drop in performance on the field. It just sort of eroded the PAC athletics in all the major sports. In addressing the 2011 move, in 2011 it was a vastly different era and a completely different college football landscape. When CU joined the PAC10, it looked to be a good-great football and basketball conference on the rise. Football revenue is king, or KU would have moved into the B1G years ago.

    About 2004-2016-17, PAC football was very competitive nationally. In the BCS era 1998-2013, the PAC put 3 teams into the title game, and frequently ranked #3-6 in many BCS rankings. A few seasons the PAC sent 2 teams to the BCS bowls; maybe 3 in one season. In the early CFP years, the PAC was in the playoffs 2 of the first 3 years. In the other year Stanford was #6 and its opening loss at Northwestern prevented them from consideration. It would have been close between Michigan State (loss @ Neb) and Stanford w/o the NW loss (other loss @ORE) for the 4th spot, however Michigan State beat Oregon in OCC, thus they would probably get the nod. Since that 2016-17 season, only Oregon makes it into 6th spot one year, as all the future PAC12 teams have 2 losses. A two loss team has never made into the present CFP. The PAC did not even have a team really knocking on the door in many seasons. IMO, the football product sort of just incrementally declined year by year, and the Conference mismanagement did it no favors. Overall, IMO, PAC12 football/basketball seemed to just erode both on and off the field each year, bit by bit, becoming less relevant as the years piled up. In basketball, Gonzaga became the darling of the West.

    Coaching is one factor that explains/exposes the drop off. Without even playing a game, CU’s football program has sort of rose from the ashes due to hiring Coach Prime–the excitement, the buzz and the discussion is 24/7 everywhere. For the PAC, it used to be like that with many household name coaches and splashy hires that really reinvigorated programs, even if that coach later fell on his face. There more than a few that failed: Rich-Rod/Kevin Sumlin at UoA, Sark at SC, Graham and Herm at ASU, and Jim Mora at UCLA. Except for Chip Kelly, Lincoln Riley, and the unknown commodity–Prime, there were no splashy hires to offset the household name coaches leaving the conference.

    When you go back to 2015 and look at the head coaching names, except for a couple, most all hires were household names with substantial experience/expectations and they were in extremely high demand. Back then PAC teams made splashy hires with those known/thought to be some of the best in the business. At some point the PAC had something like 8-9 of the Top-25 football coaches nationally.

    Starting in 2017-18 PAC coaching became is less stable more fluid than it has ever been. Except for the Riley, Kelly and Prime, the new coaches are less experienced, have less name recognition, and were not names hired in high demand… Look at the PAC’s head coaches this year: If Utah goes to the B-12, the PAC loses 3 of its 4 top coaches + the one coach with most name recognition.

    On the stability side, 8 of the PAC’s coaches are in their 1st three years. Chip Kelly, Lincoln Riley, Prime and Whittingham are the household names. Stability/turnover is part of it: just focusing on UW and OU–since 2015. Oregon is on its 4th coach (1 retired, 2 left for other teams). Same thing with UW, as since 2013 they are on their 4th coach (Sark left for USC, Peterson retired, Lake bombed). Why is this important: (1) these are two best North Division Brand–winning teams with ample support, national championships, and the expectation of playing for the conference championship if not looking for the playoffs each year; and (2) outside of USC & UCLA, these are most coveted HC’ing destinations in the PAC 12. That is a cause for concern… even Sark who bombed at SC is now at Texas. Why would the experienced and high demand coaches flee and/or not consider the PAC if it is so great?

    On the talent side, the 2015 coaching resumes are not even close to the present resumes, absent Riley, Kelly and Whittingham. Five coaches are 1st time HC’s: Diekert, Lanning, Dillingham, Frisch, and Smith (but he has been at OSU five years) with no prior HCing experience, and not a ton of P65 OC/DC experience either–less than 3 years. 3 other coaches are not from P65 teams: Taylor (Sac St.), DeBour (Fresno St.), and Prime (JSU), again none of them with substantial P65 OC/DC experience. Wittingham was DC at Utah about a decade before he was promoted with tons of success. He had two open job offers when he was hired: Utah and BYU! Wilcox, Cal’s holdover same thing: a decade of P65 DC experience and he was a hot DC name. The HC resumes 2015 v. present are just not comparable. Also, when you get into younger coaches or non-P65 coaches the asst. coaches they bring is always a gamble–CU saw it with Hawkins, Auburn just went through it with Harsin. CU paid the house with both their asst. coaching salaries and enlarging the entire football apparatus.

    I the PAC there are several factors at play:

    1. Since the CFP playoffs, PAC only has 2 appearances in years 1 & 3. However the conference was set up, the PAC could not get teams through without 2 losses? Ironically, the new B12 will have 2 (TCU, Cinci) in the past 2 years. Oklahoma made it 4 times; and they always have teams in the top-6 for consideration. Outside of Ore/UW appearances, only two other teams have made the #6 CFP spot. They both had two losses, so it is not like a PAC team was jobbed… The only 1 loss teams considered and missed out were: Baylor/TCU (they had no championship game, and fixed that the next year), 5 from the B1G and a few from the SEC. However, a conference is set up, if a PW5 wants to stay on top they have to get a team or two through with 1 loss or less.

    2. The California/West Coast recruiting product has diminished. Less kids playing football and stringent State regulations preventing pads/contact has resulted in a major drop in this vital scarce commodity. It is a situation where so many PAC teams rely heavily on CA for their talent, yet this resource is diminishing at all levels, not just Blue-Chips (and these are National targets who leave the State) but the overall talent pool as a whole. There are instances where promising CA HS-prospects move to Nevada (Bishop Gorman), Texas, Florida (IMG etc…) and/or other states to develop alongside better competition, such that they maximize their recruiting options.

    3. There is the PAC footprint itself, where a TX/Southern recruit going to Colorado or even LA (so many direct flights) is one thing, however UW, WSU, Ore, and OSU are somewhat another ballgame. Stanford and Cal are hard schools admission wise. Arizona and ASU you have the oppressive heat… I think this is an impediment for attracting out-of-state talent.

    4. Ravenous fans… Football is King in the South and despite Texas/Florida having so many college football teams, their fan bases are just ravenous. The old SWC/Pony Excess is a great analogy. Texas just eats and breathes football, as does many States in the South. Although their teams may have a smaller footprint or tv market, the crazy fan appeal is just dense. IMO, the B1G is a bit different, as it is regional/state appeal driving their huge fan bases for many generations. The PAC is different, as you have some in-state rivalries yet the teams are sort of regionally disbursed–plus there is just so much to do in California, Ore and WA… It is the same in Colorado to a degree, although CSU may disagree, we do not have an in-state conference rival–that all resides the Mountain West.

    4. Larry Scott’s mismanagement of the league was just a huge drag/debacle for the entire conference. For the past 6-7 years, the PAC has been more known for referee snafus, coaching departures (firings & scandals))–same with some AD’s, and just overall conference mismanagement. The focus is on this, rather than tending to the product on the field. This is primary for any P5 conference is their product, not other factors.

    5. The PAC12 Network flounder was a sight to behold. The other conferences made it work, yet the PAC fell woefully short. That PAC has Hollywood and Vegas, yet Larry Scott opted to run it from San Francisco. The exposure and TV product was just not that good.

    6. The PAC did itself no favors in handling Covid. I think this is overlooked, however the PAC went from “Pac12 after Dark, to just Covid Dark!” Not only did the PAC play from behind all season with only 4-6 game seasons, but six teams passed on bowl invitations/invitations deciding not to play/opting out. Only, Colorado and Oregon even played out of the 6-8 bowls contractually available. No doubt, Covid was tough–however from an overall PAC perspective, it is just not a good look when USC, Washington, UCLA, Utah, Stanford and ASU all decide not to play. Five of those six are the conference Blue-Bloods, and only Oregon played. I the PAC conference office turned a blind eye permitting this to occur without, however they did not make a stink or even seek to consider explain, address or even ascertain/discuss the future potential conference ramifications. Although many will not say anything as Covid was just tragic, I just do not think this sit well with the other conferences, television partners (they had less viewable games in Prime TV slots), the bowl committees which pass out $$$ with their huge sponsors, the PAC’s own sponsors, or the college football world in general. IMO, it tended to make the PAC look indifferent or IRRELEVANT in the college football landscape, almost like they did not care that much. The PAC would talk about East Coast/Southern bias in college football, but things like this drive that bias–I buys right into the negativity of viewing the PAC as a West Coast elitist high-academic conference. IMO, you can’t just turn your back on the bowls, as this is such a money maker and TV exposure. This was biting the hand that fed it. Perhaps, this left more than a few PO’d TV execs, which partly led to the PAC’s TV woes. ESPN sort of monopolizes the bowls having 1-2 games most days in December and I don’t think that when the PAC contract was up, they were coming with open arms, no matter what the discounted cost may have been. I think there may be grudges at play…

    7. The football product disparity does show on the field. Sure, the PAC has guys drafted in the NFL, but watching PAC games side-by-side with the entire SEC, decent B1G, decent B12, and top tier ACC teams in games, the PAC teams are just much smaller and slower in the trenches. Sure, the P12 has QBs, WRs, RBs, DBs, sometimes a TE, however in the trenches they lack both size and depth from the Pac’s best team to the worst. IMO, most impactful Defensive player I can think of in recent PAC history is Kayvon Thibodeaux–Oregon’s recruiting coup. Utah is the only PAC team that I would call “physical,” year-in and year-out. There is an old saying across many sports: “offense is great, but defense wins championships.”

    8. When you talk B12 v. PAC12, there is disparity head-to-head in bowls. Some say the bowl season, except for the Big 4-5 is silly season, but the Alamo Bowl is decent reference: this game generally featured ranked teams, or at least one ranked team playing one another. The best display of this disparity, I saw up close was #10CU v. #12Okie State. I love that CU team, however after the teams played about 3 possessions, it was just blatantly obvious that OSU was bigger, stronger, faster and deeper at perhaps every position. Plus, they had 20+ more players suited on the sideline, and their taxi squad was bigger, stronger and faster. It was 31-0 after 3 quarters, 38-8 final.

    Of the 14 years of the Alamo being PAC v. Big 12, only one time did a lower ranked PAC team beat a higher ranked B12 team. In many instances the PAC sent their better programs: Ore(3), UW(2), Stanford (during their great run) and Utah. It was mostly a higher ranked PAC team (like the PAC’s 2-3 pick team) against a lower ranked B12 team (the B12 3-5). This made sense as OU was frequently in the CFP. The tell: 2019: #12 (10-2 Utah) v. unranked Texas (7-5)… Texas won 38-10. If that Utah team beat Oregon in PAC-12 championship, it probably goes into the CFP, as they were ranked #5 heading into that game. Those losses sting and are watched by the CFP and football pundits etc… The end Alamo result B12 over PAC 10-4.

    9. The PAC12 could just have too much parity. Instead of maybe being Top-Heavy as necessary to get teams into the CFP, the PAC repeatably cannibalizes itself. Maybe the PAC should have considered going to 8 conference games like the SEC and ACC? This may present a better option with (1) exposure if you have great OOC match-ups, (2) getting more teams bowl eligible thus more practices; and (3) having teams go through conference play + championship to end up with 0-1 losses and onto the CFP?

    10. Financially, it is not just the TV contract (although a B1G or SEC contract would solve many woes), since as an overall conference most of the schools AD’s are in serious financial trouble/strain. Prime example: CAL with Justin Wilcox. He is the 2nd longest tenured coach in the PAC12 going into his 7th year, although they went to 2 minor bowl games in years 2-3, CAL does not even having a winning record in any season PAC-12 conference play! Their PAC record is 17-32… They cannot fire and replace him with someone better, since it will take too much money! UCLA’s financial woes began in 2017 and presented such an albatross, I see why California let their state’s flagship athletic university leave to the B1G–as they had no choice. Not leaving was financial ruin. For the PAC, the 2020 year was just a huge loss/burden, however they lose revenue all over the place. Even if GK gets a decent TV contract (less the B12 but within the ballpark), I am not sure this bails all the AD’s out such that they even hope to recoup years of losses + remain competitive conference wise. A few teams have advantages: OU has Phil Knight; UW probably has great donors; Stanford has massive endowments… but for the others how do they simply overcome the empty seats (i.e. Cal v. Stanford this year); the lack of a massive TV contract; lack of playoff revenue (even when it goes to 12 teams, how far would they advance?); and then less bowl revenue.

    11. I have no clue what might happen to the PAC 12 if California requires that College athletes become employees? That is on the table. Do the other state’s follow suit? If so, I am glad that CU is out of the PAC12;

    12. Why can the B12 expand, where the PAC 12 did not? For CU the math was easy– they get a full TV Share Year 1-5+, as the B12 received a $100M+ windfall due to UT/OU fees to exit the conference. Now SDSU is locked in to paying a much larger fee. I do not know what SMU’s fee would be, but if they have to pay that + the extra travel, I am not sure that the PAC12 is more palatable than the B12. That leaves the PAC with perhaps MWC teams or even looking at Cal Davis;

    13. It would be nice to say academics can drives the overall bus, however in this day and age, it is college football revenue v. AD expenses that drives the athletic bus. Also, major athletics is where the major national exposure comes from–this benefits the academics…

    I have mixed emotions with CU leaving the PAC, but it does bring stability and a future vision going forward. The hoops conference will be tough! Football we shall see how CU fares. I am afraid football-wise that the PAC may not return to solid footing, as the damage has been done over many years. I’ll never say never, but for the PAC to continue it will take years to recover onto solid footing. Lastly, I’m not sure that the 4 corners all bolt, as I think the B12 can really only offer 1 team a full or near full financial share of the TV revenue. The $100M+ windfall only goes so far. UoA and ASU share the same Phoenix market. IMO, the B12 would have to re-open its TV deal to make 4 teams happen.

    1. Nice summary GRII, boiling it down, the PAC12 offered only two things 1. academically aligned 2. geographically more alumni. That’s it, just about everything else is a negative, which IMO far outweighs the first 2.

      1. Thanks for reading. This ended up being long in the tooth, once I got started I could not quit.

        For the PAC12, I surmise their academic elitism will be forced down a few notches. Presuming Zona follows CU, the PAC has to bring in 4-8 less prestigious academic schools; and I’m not sure the conference can make it with 12 teams. SDSU could be decent and improve their academics over time. Football wise, the PAC then has to go to the MWC teams–Boise State, Fresno State, San Jose State, CSU, and all those teams have a long ways to go academically. Cal-Davis and a few other Cali schools (UCSB, UC-Irvine, UC-SD) would be better fits academic wise, if they could promote their football teams (or form new FB teams). That would be a multi-year process. Going the academic route could be good since, the schools are geographically closer thus less travel expenses.

        I know they talk about SMU & the Dallas market, CSU and Tulane, however if Zona leaves only ASU and Utah anywhere close, and that smaller school could be saddled huge travel expenses and perhaps a smaller revenue/conference share for the initial years. They have great donors and Dallas, but that might not be enough alone to weather substantial financial turbulence.

        In writing that post, one of the things that struck out the most was just the terrible financial shape of the individual athletic departments, and their losses dated to 2016 not just the pandemic loss. UCLA accumulated like a $210M losses; Washington State is about $140M). AD expenses for the PAC school ranged from $88M-$150M, without Stanford or USC reporting. When you look at CSU their expenses are in the $55M range. It is not so much that they ran a deficit (in many years they had a small profit or no huge losses), but the fact that about $28M of that revenue was from direct school payments (academics funding athletics) and student fees (about $6M & stable).

        I think this time around PAC expansion it will be the $$$/finances that really drive the bus. This time around the PAC are really forced buyers,and TV deal aside some questions could be how much $$$ does the PAC conference have to help the new expansion teams in coming and adjusting. Given the PAC’s position, I am not sure they could pay partial shares for expansion teams, since those AD’s losses could be too much for them to overcome. For CSU, I’m not sure how they pay off their stadium

  2. There is no con or negative. I’m sorry, the pac 12 is done, and UW and the Ducks know this and are holding their chips. We weren’t going to the B10. This was the deal, PERIOD!! I’m 100% behind it.

    1. This post is 1000 percent accurate.

      It didn’t take any deep analysis to conclude a move to the BIG 12 was a very likely future as of 1-2 months ago. I am surprised there was any speculation otherwise, especially after Rick George comments that he had to do what was best for Colorado. Clearly, he was trying to be a good conference member and at least wait for the PAC 12 to announce a (weak) TV deal, where the money could objectively be compared with the BIG 12 option and then a decision made. Who cares about academic footprint and culture…really, who cares. It’s about $$$ and winning. And this was the right move.

      How about considering that Rick George has said previously that he would not make this move without the support of Coach Prime, that the BIG 12 is in Prime’s strongest foothold (and primary home) in Texas, and that this move has probably increased chances for Coach Prime to have a more extended term at Colorado? I love this website, but y’all really had an off the mark read on this entire thing. But you guys are still great.

  3. Anything we can do to possibly keep Coach Prime and turn him into a Colorado LEGEND is a good move. The man has done what I thought was impossible in this day/age.
    Wouldn’t have done this unless Coach wanted it to be….
    Old enough to have been through both and have to admit, the impact is minimal (yes, other than the away cities, but that’s a 1st world problem if I’ve ever heard one).

  4. Should never have moved to the Pac 12. Poor judgement by the then AD and even worse by the admin. to let the AD hire coaches that had no business at the power 5 level. At least now we have a chance to rebuild what has been lost for years. Would have never happened in the Pac 12 with USC and UCLA and wouldn’t happen now if they stayed with a watered down league.
    This the best news possible for CU and a great day for CU athletics.

  5. The concept that athletics and academic excellence inside an athletic conference structure have any real relationship is just false ( the IVY league may be the exception). CU doesn’t have any PAC 12 academic conferences ( e.g. just the other PAC 12 schools), nor do they just hang with their PAC 12 affiliated schools at an AAU conference. Athletic conferences are about the Benjamin’s, so RG made the right choice here. They will lose some of the California alums though unless they schedule some non conference games in CA. Interesting to see what happens with the rest of the Pac12 now.

  6. It’s going to be interesting to see where the board of regents sit, and what they say about where they sit. I’m a believer the Pac 12 is a better fit for CU, and will still garner the same cash in a media deal as the Big 12. Maybe I’m an optimist on the financial front?

    What isn’t really up for debate is the fact that without the move to the Pac 12, CU and Rick George don’t get the funds to build the Champions Center.

    That from roughly 2002-2005 the only reason CU won the Big 12 North is that it was a terribly weak division of the Big 12.

    Now, or well, at least until Prime arrived, CU would’ve been beaten by KU, and Iowa State, and certainly Kansas State, which were often three wins off the bat, back in the day.

    Culturally and academically, we’re way more aligned w/ the Pac than the Big 12.

    Financially? TBD.

    For Prime? I don’t think he cares what conference CU is in. He’ll continue recruiting wherever he finds they kids they want. 20 from Florida, already, without being in the ACC or SEC? Say no more.

    But, ultimately, I still believe all this realignment now is just a placeholder for the inevitable College Football Championship Chase, brought to you by Big Fox, SECSPN, Apple and Amazon, with teams split into divisions that they’ll call something like the Pacific, Central/Mountain, Northeast and Southeast.

    Hell, even the pros don’t like cross country trips for intra divisional games. It’ll be a disaster for colleges, kids, support staff, etc. and thus, in my opinion, unsustainable. And that angst will be more from the Olympic sports teams, but the football and basketball players, and their support staffs (which for football is massive) it’ll weigh heavily too.

    Another interesting side note, I read a story yesterday about how NIL collectives (and their association, yep, they’ve created an association) are pushing for revenue sharing. Now, they’re on to something. Not in their current model/iteration/concept, but? With roughly $30billion/yr for college football and basketball, there’s enough money to support every school’s athletic, and academic departments. It might mean a few less frequent $300million renovations, and possibly capping coach’s salaries, etc. But, you think athletes get jacked? And they do, but so do the Masters’ and PhD candidates who do the work/research, for pennies, and the Prof and/or school gets the patent, IP rights, and cash that comes with it.

    Share the wealth, or the whole thing may blow up. Paying $60k/yr for a kid to get a CU degree? That’s tough to recover from, whether the kid’s debt/indentured servitude, or the parental sacrifice of their finances to make it happen.

    Something’s gotta give.

    This conference realignment stuff is just window dressing, seems to me.

    Go Buffs

    1. Yeah. I’d like for the rich teams to just get it over with, secede from the NCAA, and set up the NFL Lite. And leave the rest of the college football world to stop trying to figure out how teams like, say, CSU can ever hope to compete against teams like, say, USC, when USC can outspend them by 100x

      Call me old school, but the game should be decided on the field, not by the massive disparity in spending off the field.

  7. Really, really disappointed if we return to the Big-12. PAC-12 (after this year) will still have Oregon, Washington and Utah that have all been National contenders recently. Since Oklahoma will bolt to the SEC next year, that means we will contend with Oklahoma State as the top dog in the Big 12. Yawn. It’s almost like Colorado fears being in a tough environment to compete.

    And I know, all the give-it-to-me-now whiners will say “at least we can compete there!” Yes, but for what? The Cheetos Bowl? We should want New Years days bowls!

      1. Also Cincinnati was in the cfp a few years ago. Last time a pac 12 school made the cfp? Washington in 16. The big 12 we are joining will have as many CFP appearances and national championship appearances as the pac 12 since the cfp was launched.

  8. Whatever deal may have been in works is now back to the drawing board, plus there certainly must be at least another school coming along. Maybe Oregon State or Arizona schools. 13 in the Big 12 doesn’t make sense. An even number of schools aligned east and west makes sense with 7 or 8 in each division. Never a dull moment.

  9. I hate to say it but 1 more pro. I think the Big12 is an easier conference than the PAC12. We could use an easier schedule.

    Interested to see what your next article says Stuart. Frankly, I am just glad we are taking our future in our own hands instead of just letting it come to us.

  10. Pro: A known media deal

    Cons: Playing in the reanimated corpse of the Big 12 where Nebraska has been replaced by Cincinnati, Texas replaced by BYU, Oklahoma replaced by West Virginia, Mizzou replaced by Houston, and TAMU replaced by Central Florida.
    Replacing road games where alumni and donors live, like in Los Angeles, Berkeley, Seattle, and Oregon with exciting road trips to places where our alumni and donors don’t live, such as the bustling metropolises of (checks notes) Ames, Manhattan (KS), Stillwater, Cincinnati and Provo.
    Being in a conference that did nothing after Baylor and it’s crappy town worked tirelessly to sweep a couple dozen rapes under the rug for the football program it’s donors bought. And, somehow, the Big 12 and NCAA never sanctioned them for being a sexual assault factory. And now they’re our “peers” again. Along with the other religious school that waited until the 1970s to admit that being black was not, in fact, the “Mark of Kaine.”
    The new Lil 12 is comprised of the worst teams of the Big 12 from our era welded to the seeds and stems of G5 teams, most of whom would still be G5 teams if the Big 12 had been able to land or keep equivalent level teams.
    And we get to crawl back to our “historic rivalries” and our storied past in a conference whose only resemblance to the Big 12 is its logo. Since none of our *actual* rivals remain in the rump of the Big 12 after this season. KU? Not a rival. Iowa State? Not a rival. KSU? Not a rival.
    Okie State? Yup, not a rival either. Texas Tech? Not a rival.
    CU gets to be the sole member institution in the Big 12 that isn’t living with anti-education crusades from state politicians.

    After 35 years of attending CU games, this feels like a huge step down. The administration that has seen fit to expunge all of our actual rivals from our schedules over the past decade or so is now going to commit us to a rump Big 12 populated by the losers of the old Big 12, and the Runners Up in the G5 to P5 sweepstakes over the past decade. Houston? Cincinnati? UCF? WVU? BYU? Yeah. They’ve had good teams. Once in a while. They’re not even a pale shadow of the schools they were brought in to replace.

    CU used to seek out and play the best teams around. Now we’re jumping ship to join a conference that isn’t a fit for us culturally or academically. And is only a fit athletically because of 20 years of continuous, gut punching failure. Because the CU of 2003 would have been absolutely humiliated to call this imitation of the Big 12 it’s home.

    I wish us luck. But it sure feels like a sell out. And crawling back to the league we all used to hate because of unfair revenue sharing is absolutely *not* a power move when that conference has fallen as far as it has.

    1. So stay on in a foundering conference solely for “alumni base” and “decent road trips” (in cities that are multiple day drives away) is better than stability and exposure with ESPN and Fox that is guaranteed? Also think CU is playing the long game here. Let’s go to the big 12, hopefully coach prime gets us to a position to dominate, and in 2030 let’s see what happens.

      1. What if Prime takes us to 8 to 10 wins this season and the Big 10 might have come calling? Can the Buffs back out like a recruit who only has a verbal?

        1. Big 10 would be an even worse decision. We don’t want to wind up back in a conference where we are dead last in athletics budgets. That was the Big 12 in 2010.

      2. Hey, here’s hoping you’re right. I wouldn’t say the B12 is any more stable than the Pac right now in terms of membership or long term viability compared to the established mega-conferences. But the media contract being done is the stability guarantee in the short term. It’ll be nice to be able to see some of our games again, since that hasn’t been a thing for me for a few years out here. The quality of our new peers still leaves a lot to be desired, for me.

      1. Yeah. I stopped pointing that out years ago, because people always got pissy that I wanted more than a shallow corporate experience from college ball.

    2. “I wish us luck. But it sure feels like a sell out. And crawling back to the league we all used to hate because of unfair revenue sharing is absolutely *not* a power move when that conference has fallen as far as it has.”

      I couldn’t agree more with this and everything your wrote, “Andy in Boston”. This is a bad move if we go to the (leftovers) of the Big-12.

  11. I don’t know if this is a pro or a con, but we will hear a lot of John Denver songs when the Buffs start playing West Virginia.

  12. Now here’s the real question, did Colorado just sign the death note of the PAC 12? How can they survive with just 9 schools? I also have a hunch a few more will bolt as well.

  13. I wanted to comment on this the day this posted but I decided to wait to see what it will look like around the time of media day. Now that we are almost there my initial thoughts feel vindicated. I have said I dont care where CU ends up as long as the Buffs have stability and a clear opportunity for national exposure and relevance. At this point the only place I see that being possible is in the Big 12. When i hear the schools in the Pac 12 are more valuable than that of the schools in the big 12 once OU and UT leave, I say bull. If they were more valuable the money would reflect that. The value is in what the market values you at. Given that the Pac has not been able to bring in new schools to this point, and land a media at all, let alone on the same plane as the big 12 tells me the value is not out west. I miss playing games on the road in stadiums filled to capacity. In the pac 12 im sure tv partners are fed up with broadcasting games in mostly empty stadiums. Colorado, Washington, Utah and oregon are the only schools who seem to have decent home attendance in the conference. That tells me the conference members do not care about football. Sure the academics are nice but thats becoming less relevant in today’s college football. Stanford sucks, CAL sucks, Northwestern sucks, Vanderbilt sucks, Duke sucks. I just dont understand the desire to be associated with them athletically. The Big 12 offers money, exposure, great game day atmospheres, and a chance to become a big dog in that conference with coach prime. Recruiting florida and texas, knowing we will play games down there at least semi annually will be a huge draw. But instead lets recruit kids from texas and florida to play in half empty stadiums in time slots no one is watching on a network no one has heard of? Forget that. I wish CU would just be clear and blunt. Pac 12 you have until x date to get the deal done or we are gone. Period. The Pac 12 has no leadership, no direction, and no clue what it is doing. Enough is enough. If someone offers you a seat on a lifeboat while the Titanic is sinking you get on the damn lifeboat. The Big 12 is that lifeboat.

    1. Uh, while I agree full stadiums are nice… I really enjoyed going to LA, Seattle, Salt lake and Phoenix. Now, I get to go back to Waco, Ames, Stillwater and Morgantown. That’s going to suck!!!

      1. I won’t be going to any of the road games. I’m not willing to spend money in any of the states currently represented in the Big 12.

      2. We will be going to Provo, not far from salt lake, LA was gone anyways, and no one in Northern California cares about college football. BYU, the Kansas schools, and Oklahoma are all about the same drive as it was to Utah. Also Eugene or Seattle may still be in the cards for the big 12, and Arizona is also in the cards.

  14. The only games I watch from start to finish are those that the Buffs play. Wherever they go I want all of their games available, without having to pay extra for them. I do not want to pay to get Apple TV or You Tube just to see the Buffs. I also do not want to see the Buffs in a 16 or 20 team conference, with ESPN showing some “select” games on a saturday, and the Buffs not being on at all.

  15. My biggest concern about the PAC12 is the money, followed quickly by Washington and Oregon leaving. On the other side, streaming is the future. I don’t think either of my kids will ever buy cable and they are 22. Now streaming the premier sports brand espn is better right now than Apple. But I also remember when sports illustrated was areal thing. Apple and Amazon have enough real money to make streaming a real thing. Apple + other than Ted lasso is pretty bad. Amazon is trying to move into sports and done ok…. If the PAC12 does go to streaming, whoever does it needs to go all in though and report not just on the PAC12. They need to compete with a national audience for the analysis side. They need their version of gameday. Doesn’t have to be onsite, but it has to talk about teams in every conference with just a slight lean to the PAC12.

  16. Great recap of the situation, thank you.
    Personally, don’t believe anyone (incl. the Big10) knows what is going to happen by 2030, NCAA as Pro League era has begun and things are moving incredibly fast.
    Therefore, very concerned that UW/OU leave in the next couple of years and then the Pac12 is old WAC w/the Bay Area schools.
    But it sure seems like the Big12 would take the four corners at a drop of the hat, so ultimately, we can wait it out w/the Pac for now.

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