It’s been more than 15 years since the first rumors about Colorado making a move to the Pac-10 began to surface. And, it appears they’re back again, stronger than ever …
Some quick background: Back in 1994, the CU regents actually voted on CU making a move to the Pac-10. The vote came at exactly the same time that CU and Texas were spearheading the formation of the Big 12. The Southwest Conference was imploding, and Big Eight folks — led by CU athletic director Bill Marolt — knew that TV dollars were going to be the cornerstone of any conference in the future.
Thus, four schools from the SWC and all of the Big Eight schools formed the Big 12.
At the same time, the Pac-10 approached CU about making the jump there. CU folks seriously considered it, and the regents finally voted on the issue. By a 5-4 margin, they voted to stay with their Big 12 plans.
Ever since, CU has been a possibility to make a jump to the Pac-10. Now, the rumors are heating up again as conferences around the nation look to strengthen themselves in terms of sheer numbers, television audiences and playoff money.
On Monday, San Jose Mercury News writer Jon Wilner wrote that Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said, “If we were ever going to look at expansion, this would be the logical time.”
No doubt, the Pac-10 would like a conference championship game in football, as well as an expanded conference that would give it more chances at NCAA basketball tournament berths.
Remember, the Big Ten is also studying expansion, with Pitt and Rutgers believed to be the favorites, and Mizzou still in the mix.
The Mercury News report led to speculation from a Salt Lake TV station that Pac-10 expansion would include invitations to Utah and Colorado.
What’s clear is that if one domino falls — in the Big Ten or Pac-10 — it could set off a chain reaction around the nation.
The timing couldn’t be worse for the Mountain West Conference. I’ve been told that when the Bowl Championship Series completes its review after the 2011 season, the MWC is a virtual lock to be included in the mix of automatic bid conferences. But if Utah leaves, that would greatly diminish the MWC’s strength.
The ABC report also suggests that if Colorado goes to the Pac-10, the Big 12 would consider inviting BYU to take Colorado’s place. That would cause even greater damage to the Mountain West.
If a school elects to leave a conference, it must give one-year notice. It happened several years ago when Miami, Boston College and Virginia Tech left the Big East to join the ACC, causing a major uproar on the East Coast (five teams then left Conference USA to join the Big East).
I would have no problem with CU joining the Pac-10. The conference is a better fit for CU in many ways, ranging from academic standards to alumni base.
But what’s becoming more and more apparent is that change is on the horizon … it’s just a matter of whether CU will be included in the dominoes.
By the way, the Pac-10 recently hired former Big 12 commissioner Kevin Weiberg as deputy commissioner and COO. Weiberg obviously would be very familiar with what Colorado would bring to the table in the Pac-10.