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Pac-10 Expansion / Big-12 Demise: Anticipation Builds For What Happens Next

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Now that it looks like the Colorado Buffaloes are headed to the Pac-10 conference, the attention turns to what's next and who will follow the Buffs. With Nebraska looking to jump to the Big Ten, the Big 12 is on the verge of dissolving. Texas and Texas A&M are meeting today to discuss their options as rumors swirl about the two teams following suit and joining Colorado in the Pac-10 or potentially looking at another conference.

Conference alignment is immediately on everyone's mind and is the largest piece of apprehension for Buff fans. Practically the only reason not to join the Pac-10 was the fear of being coupled with the Big 12 South minus Baylor. If the Big 12 South teams accepted an offer from the Pac-10, here is potentially how the alignment would look:

Pac 16 East - Colorado Buffaloes, Texas Longhorns, Texas Tech Red Raiders, Oklahoma Sooners, Oklahoma State Cowboys, Texas A&M Aggies, Arizona Wildcats and Arizona State Sun Devils

Pac 16 West - USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins, Stanford Cardinal, California Golden Bears, Washington Huskies, Washington State Cougars, Oregon State Beavers and Oregon Ducks

First impressions? Take a deep breath, be happy the Buffs are in a major conference for now. There are reasons for optimism within this structure, more on that in the future. Obviously, though, this may not be the best structure for the ability to be competitive in the near future.

So what if Texas and Texas A&M take a bid from the Big Ten or SEC, a rumor that is certainly out there. Well that would obviously mix things up a little, possibly with the Pac-10 adding Oklahoma and Oklahoma State along with Utah. However, most of the reports that we have seen have indicated that it's either going to be a 12 or 16 team conference.

Are there other options if 16 teams are included? Potentially. The 4 team pod system has been brought up by multiple sources but it doesn't seem to have a ton of legs right now. Most reports have the Pac-16 staying in two divisions. The biggest reason being that the Pac-16 may not want a championship game, instead prefering an automatic BCS bid for both divisions. Such a strategy could potentially see the Pac-16 having two teams play for the National Championship. If the pods were to happen, this is the potential structure:

Colorado, Texas Tech, Arizona, Arizona State
Texas, Texas A&M, Oklahoma State and Oklahoma
USC, UCLA, California, Stanford
Washington, Washington State, Oregon, Oregon State

This might be the best of both worlds where you get the additional money Texas would bring into the conference but not directly in their division. A lot of kinks to work out but here is how Neil Woelk of the Boulder Daily Camera thinks it may work:

Sources have told me the Pac-10 has studied a "pod system" for a 16-team league in football. The league would be divided into two divisions, with two four-team pods in each division. Teams in each pod would play each other every year in football (three games), and play two teams from the other three pods each year for a total of nine league games. The two division champions would then meet in the league title game.

For the sake of argument, we`ll leave Colorado in the Pac-16 for the moment. Here`s one scenario of how the pods would break down: 1) Texas, Texas Tech, Texas A&M and Oklahoma; 2) Colorado, Oklahoma State, Arizona and Arizona State; 3) Southern Cal, UCLA, Cal and Stanford; 4) Oregon, Oregon State, Washington and Washington State.

Such a structure gives each team a chance to play every program over the course of time, something that is appealing to the University of Colorado due to a large California alumni base. Being able to play in both Texas and California in a given year also helps with recruiting and fostering those donor relationships. The Pac-10 may have joined what was the Big 12 arms race so raising money and improving facilities is going to be imperative for long term success.

Another option is only Utah coming over to the Pac-10 to form a 12 team conference or only Texas coming over to form a 12 team conference, ditching it's ties to A&M and Oklahoma.

If only Utah/Texas got the call to join, the conferences may align like this:

Colorado, Utah/Texas, Washington, Washington State, Oregon and Oregon State
USC, California, UCLA, Stanford, Arizona and Arizona State.

The writing appears to be on the wall, though, that the Pac-10 wants the rivalries of Oklahoma-Texas, Texas-Texas A&M, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State. They want the entire Texas marketplace. The only question is if the pod system or division system will be put in place.

The other big question out there is the issue of paying the Big 12 $10 million for leaving the conference which is part of the Big 12 agreement. Many Buff fans will wonder how the University will pay such a steep penalty when they could not afford to buy Dan Hawkins out last year. Well, this is a different scenario. The administration, faculty, CU foundation and the Colorado Regents would love to be in the Pac-10 given it's academic prestige. They will find the money or else this deal would not have been approved by the CU regents. Surely, tons of litigation will play out over time regarding this but if 9 of 12 schools vote to disband the conference then the fee is not owed. Right now, it looks like Missouri, Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Baylor will be without a conference so that 9 out of 12 vote may be interesting unless those schools find a new conference home and disband from the conference as well.

The fan base will have to rally around the University now. Donating money and starting the improvement process now will be extremely important.

Also, email this guy and tell him thanks for being on top of this situation - He has been the brunt of a lot of bad emails over the last few years but it's time to move forward and get back on the bandwagon. This is a big day for the University as it gives the athletic programs a chance to start over and move to bigger and better things.