According to ESPN, it's sources and a Big 12 head coach, Colorado has been offered a spot in the Pac-10 conference. The article says Colorado beat out Baylor due to the Denver television market that the Pac-10 coveted. If true, the new conference would likely move to 16 teams with the rest of the Big 12 South joining Colorado in the move:
Colorado already 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.
A Big 12 football coach, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, told ESPN.com's Mark Schlabach on Wednesday night that if Nebraska left the Big 12 the conference would dissolve, according to his athletics director and university president. The coach said Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado would join the Pac-10, leaving Baylor, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri and Iowa State behind.
ESPN's source also indicated that the Pac-16 would be split into two division, not four pods of four teams which Colorado fans would prefer to get away from schools like Texas and Oklahoma but also have more of a footprint in California, a prized recruiting ground for the Buffs with a strong alumni and donor base.
The new conference would be split into divisions with the Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Colorado forming an Eastern Division with Arizona and Arizona State opposite the former Pac-8 (USC, UCLA, Stanford, California, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State) in the Western Division. The division champions would play at season's end for the conference championship, the source said.
Further, the Pac-16 may not have a championship game, but instead prefer an automatic BCS bid for both divisions. Such a strategy might allow the Pac-16 to have two teams play for the National Championship. The article does not mention if any cross divisional games would exist. Play in the Pac-16 would begin in 2012.
"The Pac-10 doesn't believe in a championship game," the coach said. "And coaches in the Big 12 don't like it anyway."
One the surface, this could be a piece of bad news for the Buffs considering they will be battling the Big 12 South every year but the financial gain from this move is obviously beneficial to the University and the athletic program.
If Nebraska is forced to stay in the Big 12, then the Pac-10 might go after Colorado plus Utah or Nebraska but that seems unlikely. As for those financial benefits, ESPN has a guess at what it might mean to the University of Colorado and other potential members:
It would take a week to 10 days to finalize the details of a Pac-16. The blockbuster deal would add the nation's No. 5 (Dallas), No. 10 (Houston) and No. 16 (Denver) TV markets to the conference, which already includes No. 2 Los Angeles, No. 6 San Francisco, No. 12 Phoenix and No. 13 Seattle.
With that large population base, the new conference would start its own network and, along with other broadcast partners, likely would distribute around $20 million per member, comparable broadcast revenue to the Big Ten ($22 million) and SEC ($17 million), the source said.
That $20 million per member is double the amount the Big 12 paid out last year on average to its members. This would also double the payout each existing Pac-10 member would receive as well.
Now if the report is true, here are some things to think about.
The positives to this situation are obvious: Part of the great conference with an academic reputation second to none. Absolutely the Buffs would be in one of the most relevant and important conferences in college football. An extra $10 million a year with a television deal is not too shabby either. Certainly, joining the Mountain West or trying to form another conference with the leftovers leaves you on the outside looking in "to the big conference teams." All the things that come with being a part of the mega-conference like recruiting, fundraising, etc should be improve.
That being said, Colorado has a lot of work to do now to be competitive if this report is indeed true. Certainly, if the conference is split into divisions as referred to above, The University of Colorado, from the top of the administration down to the bottom, will have to re-dedicate itself to being a competitive member of the Pac-16 or else this will be a miserable experience. Essentially, the Buffs may have joined the Big 12 South when they have not been competitive in an inferior Big 12 North for the past few years. New facilities will need to be built, admission standards will need to be discussed especially for junior college transfers and possibly expanding the athletic offering to other sports like men's tennis and baseball.
Also, hopefully this will reignite the fan base. Disgruntled, a hopeless feeling, still slightly embarrassed of the incidents a few years ago will hopefully bring the state of Colorado back to the side of the University. Along with that, donors should emerge and help rebuild the program now in preparation. Checkbooks need to be broken out and donations need to be made to the athletic department and tickets need to be bought. It's big boy sports now in the Big 12 South/Pac-10.
All in all, this is potentially exciting news and a chance for Colorado to re-emerge as a power but just accepting an offer won't be enough, work will need to be done immediately.