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Friday, July 1, 2011
Happy Pac-12 Day!

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

It went to bed the Pac-10. It woke up the Pac-12.

Welcome, officially, Utah and Colorado.

We will have more thoughts and insights a bit later, but we wanted to acknowledge the change.

The governors of both states, Utah and Colorado, have declared today "Pac-12 Day."

Of course, every day henceforth will be Pac-12 day because, in the Pac-12, it's like Christmas every day!

Maybe that overstates things a wee bit.

From the Pac-10, er, Pac-12 office, the official release:

Expanding for the first time since 1978, the Pac-10 officially becomes the Pac-12 today with the addition of the University of Colorado and the University of Utah, opening a new chapter in the Conference’s long history.

With more than 120 Nobel Laureates across all of its campuses and the first ever to reach 400 NCAA Championships, the Conference is synonymous with both academic excellence and athletic success, having earned the nickname the “Conference of Champions”.

Colorado and Utah fit perfectly into this tradition, bringing nationally recognized research programs and a record of athletic excellence that includes 42 NCAA titles. They become the first new Conference members since Arizona and Arizona State were added exactly 33 years ago today, joining California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, UCLA, USC, Washington and Washington State.

“This is a very exciting day and a historic moment for our Conference, for college athletics and for Colorado and Utah,” Pac-12 Commissioner Larry Scott said. “Our Conference was built on a pioneering spirit and through innovation that has contributed to some of the most valuable advancements in this country and the world. Colorado and Utah share those core values and instantly enhance the strength of our Conference both academically and athletically.”

If history is any indication, the addition of Colorado and Utah promises to add even more depth and success to the Conference of Champions. During the 33 years since its last expansion, the Conference has claimed 258 NCAA Championships, including 130 in women’s sports and 128 in men’s. The Buffaloes have claimed 22 NCAA titles and the Utes have won 20, giving the new Pac-12 442 NCAA Championships, more than any conference in the country.

By joining the Pac-12, Colorado and Utah renew a rivalry that dates back to 1903. The Buffs and Utes met on the football field 57 times from 1903-62 with CU holding a 30-24-3 edge in the series. They face each other again for the first time in 49 years when Colorado travels to Utah Nov. 25.

The Pac-12 will split into two divisions for football only, and will host the first-ever Pac-12 Football Championship Game Dec. 2 on the home field of the team with the best overall Conference record. Colorado and Utah join Arizona, Arizona State, UCLA and USC in the South Division, while California, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Washington and Washington State make up the North Division.

“With the addition of Colorado and Utah we have transformed into a modern 12-team Conference that has a strong foundation for long-term success,” Scott said. “As a result, we secured a land-mark media rights deal that significantly increases national exposure for all of our programs, developed a Football Championship Game for the first time in Conference history, and set new standards of equality and collaboration that will serve all of our institutions well into the future.”

To recognize this historic moment, Governors John Hickenlooper and Gary Herbert have declared July 1 as Pac-12 Day in Colorado and Utah, respectively. Mayor Susan Osborne has also signed a proclamation making it Pac-12 Day in the City of Boulder.

Commissioner Scott and other dignitaries, including Utah Lt. Governor Greg Bell, Utah Congress-man Jim Matheson, interim University President Lorris Betz and Athletic Director Chris Hill, will participate in a ceremony on the steps of the Utah State Capitol to celebrate Utah Pac-12 Day.

Colorado has been educating its fan base on Conference history and its new Pac-12 rivals through a two-week "Countdown to the Pac-12" feature series on its athletic website (http://www.cubuffs.com/). Utah has also been promoting the historic transition on its website (www.utahutes.com).

As part of the official expansion, the Pac-12 has re-launched its website to enhance the fan experience. The new site features improved navigation, a simplified newsfeed, scores, schedules and standings on the homepage, and new Pac-12 merchandise.