Thursday, June 10, 2010
CU move a good, natural fit
By ESPN.com staff
Ever since talks began, Colorado playing in the Pac-10 made a lot of sense. It's a physical outlier in the Big 12, the conference's only school in the Mountain West. Only two other schools in the Big 12 fit inside the top 35 of the U.S. News & World Report best public national universities. The list's top two schools are in the Pac-10. Anyone who's stepped foot in Boulder can tell right away it has plenty more in common with Berkeley or Palo Alto than it does with Ames or Manhattan.
Dan Hawkins' current roster has 23 California natives. Texas? Just three.
The school probably would have made the move even without an impending jump from five Big 12 South teams that could establish the Pac-10 as the first 16-team conference in college football. The added television revenue from that move only sweetens the deal.
Colorado was in the unique position of not depending on any other school's actions to help decide its future, something only Nebraska -- if that -- can say.
On Thursday, Colorado took advantage of that.
Baylor made a late push to try to earn a bid to the Pac-10, but unless the talks between Texas A&M and the SEC heat up into an eventual marriage, the Bears may fall out of automatic qualifier status.
Colorado isn't without its jagged edges in a move to the Pac-10. It doesn't play baseball, and California is one of the few states that embraces the college game. The same with softball, where UCLA just won the national championship over another Pac-10 team, Arizona.
In football, Colorado is still years away from competing for a conference championship -- if ever -- in a soon-to-be souped-up Pac-10. And the idea that Colorado "delivers" the Denver market is generous. Denver is the Broncos' town. But as any Buffaloes fan will be quick to note, the school's 1990 national title proves that an ascension to the elite is a possibility. A more receptive California recruiting trail might push that along.
But the negatives were never going to touch the positives that far outweigh a shift in conference alignment. Especially now that a much bigger check -- perhaps as high or higher than $20 million by some estimates -- awaits if the Big 12 South arrives.
And if you haven't figured out money is all that matters in this whole process, well, then I just can't help you at this point.