Colorado athletic director Mike Bohn said he was disappointed Friday when the Pac-12 and Big Ten Conferences announced they were suspending plans for a scheduling partnership in football.
The plan announced in December called for the 12 teams in both conferences to be pitted against one another each year on a rotating basis beginning in 2017. It would have brought teams like Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Michigan State and Wisconsin to Boulder in the future. It has proven difficult for CU to get the most prominent Big Ten schools to agree to come to Boulder over the years.
"It's frustrating that we were so close but in the end weren't able to pull something together that in the end, I believe, would have been a terrific platform for not only the University of Colorado but our league, particularly with the launch of the Pac-12 network and the opportunity to create marquee matchups that would have been extremely attractive to be a part of," Bohn said.
Colorado recently announced it had completed its nonconference football scheduling through the 2016 season leading up to the start of that partnership. CU scheduled a road trip to Michigan in the 2016 season for a $1.45 million payday without the guarantee of a return game, in part, because the scheduling alliance was slated to begin the next year and CU would be guaranteed a game against Big Ten foe every year, including a game every other year in Boulder.
Bohn said he believes there are opportunities to add one or more Big Ten teams to future schedules beginning in 2017 and those deals will be home-and-home series. He said he doesn't know whether Michigan will agree to come to Boulder in the future, but he will discuss the possibility of adding a game in Boulder to that series. CU already has a contract for a home-and-home series with Minnesota in 2020 and 2021.
"It would have been extremely powerful to have that on a cycle and the ability to know we're putting it together, rather than looking for one-offs and things that don't make sense or maybe aren't as dynamic of a matchup," Bohn said of the Pac-12-Big Ten collaboration.
Pac-12 commissioner Larry Scott and Big Ten boss Jim Delany issued statements about the decision Friday. The statements said the Pac-12 backed out of the deal.
"We recently learned from Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott that the complications associated with coordinating a nonconference football schedule for 24 teams across two conferences proved to be too difficult," Delaney said. "Those complications, among other things, included the Pac-12's nine-game conference schedule and previous nonconference commitments."
USC and Stanford never liked the idea of having to play an annual game against a Big Ten foe because those programs already play Notre Dame each season in addition to the nine-game conference schedule.
For the Trojans and Cardinal, the scheduling alliance meant having to either end long rivalries with the Fighting Irish or play 11 games each year against BCS level competition. With schools in the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 Conferences routinely choosing to play much weaker nonconference slates, it made little sense for Pac-12 powers to commit to such a daunting schedule. Big Ten teams only play eight conference games and have more flexibility in scheduling.
"After extensive deliberation and consultation with member institutions, television partners and others, the Pac-12 and Big Ten have decided not to pursue the previously announced plans for enhanced scheduling collaboration across all sports at this time," Scott said. "While we continue to value our close relationship, particularly our partnership in the Rose Bowl, the Pac-12 came to the conclusion that it's in our best interests to maintain our 9-game conference schedule and maximum flexibility in out-of-conference scheduling. Thus, the Pac-12 decided not to lock into the proposed mandatory 12-game schedule in football."