Colorado is reportedly heading back to the Big 12.
Colorado will apply for Big 12 membership on Thursday, according to Brett McMurphy, where the Big 12’s Board of Directors will approve Colorado to join the league ahead of the 2024-25 school year. Colorado’s Pac-12 exit could start “an exodus of more Pac-12 schools to the Big 12,” according to McMurphy, with the most likely candidates being Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.
This spawns as the Pac-12 has struggled to find a new media rights deal after UCLA and USC announced an upcoming move from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten. In that time the Big 12 jumped the Pac-12 in the media negotiations line to strike a renewed deal with ESPN and FOX.
After the Big 12 lost Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, the Pac-12 stood stagnant instead of looking to add other Big 12 schools. The Pac-12 even joined a handshake alliance with the Big Ten and the ACC before the Big Ten promptly went against said alliance and snagged the two Los Angeles schools for the Big Ten.
Colorado was in the Big 12 from 1996 to 2010 before leaving the conference for the Pac-12. Since joining the Pac-12, Colorado has appeared in only two bowl games, both of which the Buffaloes lost. Colorado has a longstanding tie to Big 12 country as a member of the Big Eight before the Big 12 was formed.
Colorado has not yet applied for Big 12 membership, according to McMurphy, but that could happen soon. Should this move happen, it would take place ahead of the 2024-25 school year when the Pac-12’s media right’s deal ends. With the rights deal ending, Colorado would not have to pay an exit fee, according to Pete Thamel.