COLORADO SPRINGS -- The show went on without Dan Hawkins.

Colorado`s head coach, whose daughter was married over the weekend, was unable to attend the annual Sports Corp college football luncheon here on Tuesday, which featured Air Force`s Troy Calhoun, Colorado State`s Steve Fairchild, Northern Colorado`s Scott Downing and CSU-Pueblo`s John Wristen.

Athletic director Mike Bohn -- still beaming after orchestrating CU`s dramatic move from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 earlier this month -- represented the Buffs.

A lot of the questions surrounding CU`s transition from one conference to another remain unanswered, but it`s clear Hawkins will have to letthe scoreboard do the talking this fall in order to remain on the sideline when the program begins play in the Pac-10 in 2011 or possibly 2012.

Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn addresses the Sports Corp college football luncheon on Tuesday.
Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn addresses the Sports Corp college football luncheon on Tuesday. (Jerilee Bennett, Colorado Springs Gazette)

"Obviously, it`s a big year for Dan. We all know that," Bohn said. "But it`s an opportunity for us to say goodbye to the Big 12 Conference, whether it`s this year or next, but also use that (transition to the Pac-10) as an opportunity to enhance recruiting and future growth of the program."

Bohn said the athletic department is already benefiting from the decision to change conferences with increased interest in CU from alumni, fans and donors.

Usually, it`s difficult for the Buffs to receive much attention from the Denver and national media during the spring and summer months. With the hiring of two new basketball coaches, the historic decision to join the Pac-10, and the ongoing Hawkins watch there have been plenty of headlines coming out of Boulder.


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"It has been frenetic and it hasn`t slowed down yet," Bohn said. "Based on my physique I`m not a sprinter and I`m not a marathoner. I have to find some way to continue to lean on our leadership, on our donor base, on our sponsor base, on our fans in a way that we know collectively we`re all moving in one direction. That`s where I get my fuel from. I will try to be a leader and create an opportunity for us to take advantage of this opportunity of a lifetime."

Bohn hopes lawyers from the Big 12, Pac-10 and CU can negotiate and announce an agreement in the next month as to when the university will be able to officially exit its old conference and take the field in its new conference.

The Buffs will be a member of the Pac-10 after the 2012 season no matter what. Considering Nebraska will leave the Big 12 for the Big Ten after the 2011 season and Utah has the same timetable in leaving the Mountain West for the Pac-10, it seems likely that all parties would prefer CU move on after the 2011 season.

The Big 12 bylaws clearly state the penalty for a school leaving and giving two years` notice is a 50 percent reduction in conference distributions it is owed in its final two years in the league. By leaving the conference with only one year notice, Nebraska is supposed to forfeit 80 percent of its expected conference distribution.

"We have unresolved issues with both the exit timing with the Big 12 and entering the Pac-10," Bohn said. "Our plate is extremely full with many of the nuances involved with the move that are not resolved at this time. We need to resolve those."

Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott told the San Jose Mercury News he will meet with the league`s athletic directors July 30 in Los Angeles to "dig in" to the issues of splitting the conference into two six-team divisions, assuming the athletic directors want a championship game in football. He said a finalized plan might not be agreed on until October.

Bohn would prefer the Pac-10 make those decisions this summer to keep the media and fans focused on college football and the Pac-10 leading up to the season.

"I think that`s the most frustrating thing is we don`t have the details," Bohn said. "We want to continue to fuel that intensity of interest. You can fuel it with talk of championship games and schedules."

Speaking of schedules, several of CU`s future non-conference opponents -- Cal (2011), Utah (2012 and 2013), Oregon (2014) and Washington (2015) -- are suddenly future conference opponents. Bohn and his staff will be busy filling those holes.

"We had some schedule models in place through 2020, but that will be altered significantly, potentially starting in 2011," Bohn said. 

The Utes, who faced CU 57 times from 1903-1962, could replace Nebraska as the final game of the football season each year and the two schools figure to be traveling partners in basketball.

But are they rivals?

"Back in the 50s, Utah was a huge rival of Colorado. We`ll see," Bohn said. "I`m sure there`s going to be a huge event once we begin playing in the Pac-10 that will trigger some type of rivalry and some type of opportunity to create some excitement. Might be Utah, might not be.

"I have tremendous respect for Utah. I think they leveraged the fact that they hosted the Olympics recently into some great (facility) upgrades and they`ve done a great job of building their program and they are a formidable foe."

A more interesting game in the short term will be Baylor`s visit to Folsom Field on Oct. 16. Officials representing the Bears tried to lobby CU out of the Pac-10 realingment mix when Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State were also considering leaving the Big 12 to form a super conference.

"Everybody has their own style and their own approach. Their style and their approach revealed many things about what`s important to them and what works for them," Bohn said of Baylor`s desperate posturing. "That was their decision, and I respect that. But the University of Colorado chose to have a different approach."

Bohn said he believed there was a "50-50" chance Texas, Oklahoma and Co. would leave the Big 12 together to join CU in a 16-team Pac-10 during the chaotic period when the negotiations were going on. Fittingly, the Boulder native described his athletic department`s ability to be the first school to change conferences this summer with a running analogy.

"During the two-week period where there was a lot of movement and discussions, we were in a 100-yard race. We were in a sprint to ensure that we had all of our ducks in a row as far as all the different aspects of what was important to us," Bohn said. "Recognizing that the first 100-yard sprint to get into the conference or consider making a move was going to be followed by a historic run over time that builds into a marathon.

"And so we were racing through that scenario as quickly as possible with our best leaders all engaged in the process. I was overjoyed by that."

Bohn also expects CU to collect the $500,000 buyout Jeff Bzdelik owes after breaking his contract and leaving for Wake Forest. He said the Pac-10 decision put the issue on the back burner but the athletic department is "not anticipating any problems" in collecting.

When asked if he had heard from any fans who are upset about the Buffs leaving the Big 12, Bohn said there has been "a 96 percent approval rating" among CU supporters for joining the Pac-10.