Colorado Buffaloes keen on returning to Big 12


Colorado moving from PAC-12 to Big 12 Image: Colorado Buffaloes

With the latest round of realignment having slowed to a crawl after a tumultuous two years, it appears as it may be close to picking up steam again. The University of Colorado Boulder in Boulder, Colorado (US) has been in “substantive” talks with the Big 12 Conference about possibly joining the growing league, a source with knowledge of the discussions stated.

‘CBS Sports’ stated that while a move out of the Pac-12 is not assured, the University of Colorado Boulder is performing due diligence to determine whether to return to the Conference it once called home. The athletic team Colorado Buffaloes, like the rest of the Pac-12, remain in wait-and-see mode regarding a new media rights deal that is yet to be solidified.

The University of Colorado is a system of public universities in Colorado, US. It consists of four institutions – University of Colorado Boulder, University of Colorado Colorado Springs, University of Colorado Denver, and the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. It is governed by the elected, nine-member Board of Regents.

The University of Colorado Boulder is a public research university in Boulder, Colorado, United States. Founded in 1876, five months before Colorado became a State, it is the flagship university of the University of Colorado system.

The Big 12 Conference is a college athletic conference headquartered in Irving, Texas, US. It consists of 10 full-member universities. It is a member of Division I of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) for all sports.

San Francisco-based the Pac-12 Conference is a collegiate athletic conference that operates in the Western United States, participating in 24 sports at the NCAA Division I level. Its football teams compete in the Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), the highest level of college football in the nation.

The Colorado Buffaloes football program represents the University of Colorado Boulder in college football at the NCAA Division I FBS level. The team is a member of the Pac-12 Conference, having previously been a charter member of the Big 12 Conference.

Indianapolis (US)-based the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is a nonprofit organization that regulates student-athletics among about 1,100 schools in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

The NCAA Division I Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS), formerly known as Division I-A, is the highest level of college football in the United States. The FBS consists of the largest schools in the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). As of the 2023 season, there are 10 Conferences and 133 schools in FBS.

The University of Colorado Boulder and the Big 12 have met face-to-face while involved in consistent talks over a period of several months, according to multiple sources. It was made clear that a move to the Big 12 would not be made without the support of the football coach Deion Sanders (head football coach at the University of Colorado Boulder).

‘CBS Sports’ further stated that the University of Colorado’s rumored Big 12 interest was the talk of the Fiesta Summit held in May in Scottsdale, Arizona, with several sources speculating in the hallways. It became more public recently when Oklahoma sports columnist Berry Tramel reported, “Colorado is ready to commit joining the Big 12 ‘soon’.”

Said Rick George, Colorado Athletic Director, while not exactly shooting down the Big 12 talks, “I have no comment other than what I said last week. We are proud members of the Pac-12. In a perfect world, we’d love to be in the Pac-12, but we also have to do what is right for Colorado at the end of the day.”

The Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark and the Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff did not comment.

It is expected that Colorado would receive an equal media rights share ($31.7 million, beginning in 2025) to join the Big 12, making the move even more attractive. The league’s contract with ESPN and Fox is believed to guarantee an equal share for any expansion teams so long as they are currently Power Five members.

The Power Five Conferences are the five most prominent and highest-earning Athletic Conferences in college football in the United States. The Power Five Conferences are the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC), Big Ten Conference, Big 12 Conference, Pac-12 Conference, and the Southeastern Conference (SEC).

There remains the feeling out there that, should Yormark get one Pac-12 school to defect, it would create a domino effect leading to the other Four Corners schools – Arizona, Arizona State and Utah – fleeing for the Big 12 as well.

Adding those four programs would satisfy part of Yormark’s desire to become the only Conference with teams in all four time zones.

The Pac-12 remains in a flux not knowing what kind of media right deal it will make. The Big 12 figure has become the baseline for comparison, anything close to $31.7 million per team enhances the league’s chances of moving forward with its 10 current members.

The Pac-12 continues to expect that a deal will be announced in the late Spring or early Summer. It was reported in May that the Conference remains confident it will land a media rights deal with a major carrier.

Colorado is a Big 12 legacy program having played in the old Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 from 1948-2010. It won a share of the national championship as a Big Eight member in 1990.

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