When the dust clears from all the conference realignment and expansion rumors, speculation and politics sometime before the end of the year, the University of Colorado could find itself heading to the Mountain West Conference.

Yes, it is a possibility.

But before Colorado fans start jumping off the Flatirons, preferring that to life in the same conference as Colorado State, they should realize that doomsday scenario is only a possibility and probably not the most likely one.

Here is a review of where we are.

It should be noted University of Colorado officials have opted to keep quiet on the issue for now, referring all comments on expansion to Big 12 Conference commissioner Dan Beebe or the chair of the league`s board of directors, Texas president William Powers.

The majority of Big 12 members prefer to remain together, including those in Texas. Those preferences were stated last week when the league`s presidents, chancellors and athletic directors met in Kansas City.

The holdup is an unwillingness from Nebraska and Missouri to fully commit to that future as long as the Big Ten Conference keeps flirting with them. The Big Ten could eventually invite the two Big 12 schools to be a part of that league`s expansion to 14 or 16 teams.

However, the Big Ten really wants Notre Dame and would probably stop its expansion at one school -- a total of 12 teams -- if the Fighting Irish opted to give up theirtraditional independent status.


The Big 10 is already at the top of the heap financially and adding Notre Dame would be a significant boost to the league`s network, which is already helping pay member schools $20 million annually.

Notre Dame satisfying the Big Ten`s appetite is the best-case scenario for the Big 12 at this point. The league could mend its wounds with Nebraska and Missouri and carry on with only some hurt feelings to overcome, but that has been the case in this league from the start. No big deal.

If the Big Ten can`t get Notre Dame and does invite Nebraska and Missouri, that`s when things could get hairy for the Buffs, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State and Baylor.

The Pac-10 is considering several options to expand, including inviting six schools from the Big 12 to form a super conference covering most of the population centers in the western half of the country.

There are two scenarios at play. One involves Colorado joining Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State in the merger. The other has CU on the outside looking in with Baylor replacing the Buffs in the new league thanks to some Texas political shenanigans.

Texas is the cash cow here and the primary target of this move if it`s made. It could be that adding Texas to the Pac-10 would provide such a heavy pay day to the Pac-10 or Pac-16, that the current members of that league would be willing to overlook the downside of Baylor or Texas Tech or Oklahoma State for that matter.

Members of the Texas Legislature and other powerful politicos in the Lone Star state are hard at work trying to make sure their schools get in at the expense of Colorado if the Pac-10 comes calling.

Colorado fans have been wondering for several days now why they aren`t hearing a similar fuss being made here.

If the Pac-10 did choose Baylor over CU to get the Longhorns and all those Texas TVs, CU would likely have little choice but to join the Mountain West, possibly accompanied by Kansas and Kansas State, giving the MWC 12 teams.

Not coincidentally, the MWC postponed any decision on expansion Monday until some of this plays out. It was planning to add Boise State, but when news broke late last week that several Big 12 schools could become free agents, it opted to wait and see if it could get a better deal.

Not every CU supporter looks at landing in the Mountain West with Kansas and Kansas State in a bad light.

Sure, it doesn`t have the big bucks and traditional powers that would come with Pac-16, but the MWC would probably be a Bowl Championship Series Conference at that point and CU would probably have an easier time competing for championships as opposed to being in a division of the Pac-16 with Texas and Oklahoma. 

The new Mountain West with Kansas and Kansas State combined with BYU, Utah, New Mexico and UNLV would be one of the best basketball conferences in the nation from the start.