Thorburn: Pac-12 expansion doesn't benefit CU Buffs
09/03/2011 08:09:53 PM MDT
Ryan Thorburn, Camera Sports Writer
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HONOLULU -- Paradise lost?
Colorado played its much-anticipated inaugural game as an official flag-waving member of the Pac-12 here on Saturday against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium.
About 1,500 Buffs fans traveled to Oahu to celebrate the seemingly bright future the athletic department and university should enjoy in the new conference.
But some old friends are threatening to spoil the party.
Word out of Norman and Austin is that the Big 12 bullies are thinking seriously about chasing Ralphie out West in the aftermath of Texas A&M's decision to leave.
This is bad news for CU.
The Pac-12 is the perfect number for the Buffs, especially playing in the South Division with UCLA and USC, which guarantees a football trip to the fertile Los Angeles recruiting grounds every fall.
Not surprisingly, CU athletic director Mike Bohn wasn't in the mood to comment on possible expansion in the press box prior to Saturday's otherwise festive opener.
Meanwhile in Dallas, Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott said the conference is already picking up the phone as universities -- presumably Oklahoma and Texas -- call looking to revisit last summer's realignment drama.
"Schools have reached out to us," Scott told the Associated Press at the Oregon-LSU showdown. "(The Pac-12 would listen) to evaluate what might be in the best interest of our members."
The Pac-16 is not in the best interest of the University of Colorado or the Buffaloes, although being included in a 16-team mega-conference is better than the options Iowa State and Baylor might have later this month.
After years of dreaming about it, CU finally gets to associate itself academically with Cal and Stanford. And now Oklahoma State and Texas Tech could be peers again.
After struggling to keep up with the athletic department arms race dominated by Big 12 South programs, the Buffs could be asked to share the huge new pie with wealthy elite Oklahoma and Texas.
According to longtime Daily Oklahoman columnist Berry Tramel, the Pac-12 preference is to add four schools -- Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
The panic button was pushed with Texas A&M's recent decision to leave the Big 12, presumably for the SEC. (Maybe Scott can talk the Aggies into joining the Pac-12 and scratch the Red Raiders off the expansion list?)
On Friday, Oklahoma president David Boren told the Oklahoman a decision will be made sooner, pun intended, than later.
"We're a very influential member of the conference," Boren bragged. "(Oklahoma) is influential not only in this conference, but influential in athletics across the country. It's a tribute to the strength of this program.
"I'll put it this way: I don't think there's any chance OU's going to end up being a wallflower."
Orangebloods.com has reported that Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe convened a conference call of Big 12 presidents -- excluding Boren, Texas' William Powers and Texas A&M's R. Bowen Loftin -- and urged the desperate group to petition Texas to stay put.
Austin American-Statesman columnist Kirk Bohls said the Longhorn Network -- Exhibit 1A as to why the Aggies are bolting the Big 12 -- could be morphed into the Pac-12's already amazing television deal as one of the regional networks.
Bohls predicts -- "Your new Pac-16 members: Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State. The era of the super conference begins."
If this plays out, the Buffs had better enjoy the one-and-redone Pac-12 season. The Pac-16 would likely divide into "traditional" eight-team divisions as follows:
The South -- Arizona, Arizona State, CU, Utah, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas and Texas Tech.
The North -- Cal, Stanford, Oregon State, Oregon, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.
Paradise is not found in Lubbock or Stillwater.