As the old, actual Big XII fades into the dusk of history, the new PAC-12 rises like a newly-awakened golden sun. Viewed in the University of Colorado's rear-view mirror, the Big XII - a conference which the Bufffaloes helped create by inviting four faded remnants of a flagging Southwest Conference to join - now seems nearly like a speed bump which CU alternately trampled and stumbled over on its way to the Conference of Champions.
There were great moments to be sure for Colorado Football in the Big XII: a string of bowl victories under Rick Neuheisel's direction, the 62-36 Trampling of the #2 Huskers in 2001 before a screaming and swooning crowd at Folsom Field, followed soon thereafter by a Big XII Championship 39-37 victory deep in the heart of Texas over the Longhorns, the two road victories in a row over the dreaded and dreadful Huskers in 2002 and 2004, a huge upset of the #3 Sooners at Folsom 27-24 in 2007, the "Blackout" overtime victory over #21 West Virginia in 2008.
Yet there are too few other moments to treasure, and a lot of terrible memories that linger: five miserable years in a row of painfully-close losses to the Huskers from the inception of the Big XII in 1996 to 2000, the lawyer-/publicist-inspired and media-induced "scandal" that scarred CU Football and resulted in the loss of a coach, an athletic director, a university president and a boatload of recruits, mind-numbing losses to former doormat Iowa State, a huge blowout loss to the Longhorns in 2005 that ended the Barnett era, a season-opening loss to I-AA Montana State in 2006 to usher in the Hawkins era, repeated shellackings by Missouri which included a 2008 shutout that ended the 3rd longest active scoring streak in the NCAA, and the five years of frustration and eventual feebleness under Dan Hawkins, culminating in the worst come-from-ahead loss in Colorado (and NCAA) football history against the Jayhawks last year, bringing the Hawkins era to a thudding end.
Out with the old, in with the new. Now CU fans can revel not only in the promise of a new start with new coaches spawned from the greatest era of CU Football, but in the new contract with new money that flips the bird to UT and the rest of the privileged few in the monarchy/OUligarchy that is what's left of a once-proud conference. We can have sweet dreams of nights in Seattle, Tempe and Pasadena instead of nightmares about being stranded in Ames, Waco or Lubbock. The future in the new PAC-12 is so bright, even Ralphie's got to wear shades.