After months of talk about four-corner schools and media rights negotiations, more concrete conference realignment happenings have started again.
Brett McMurphy reported Wednesday that Colorado is leaving the Pac-12 to join the Big 12. A few hours later Pete Thamel reported the Big 12’s presidents and chancellors voted unanimously to accept Colorado. Things are moving quickly, so here are four quick thoughts on Wednesday’s news.
1. Yormark Forever
Brett Yormark’s first year or so as conference commissioner has been an epic one.
Sure, he’s had some out-of-the-box ideas like Big 12 Mexico and flirting with basketball-focused schools that may or may not prove fruitful, but it’s that same outside-the-box thinking that allowed the Big 12 to renew its media rights deal early to survive what should have been a death note when OU and Texas left.
Yormark has made it to where Houston is in a better media rights standing that Oregon right now. Just think about that for a second. Oregon played for a national title in 2010 while Houston went 5-7 in Conference USA, and now Houston is in a more stable conference.
2. The Pac-12 Could’ve Prevented This
The Pac-12 starved an animal and was surprised when it ate them.
The Big 12 was in shambles when Oklahoma and Texas left two years ago. Everything felt like it was in full scramble mode, and what did the Pac-12 do? It sat on its hands and gave off an aura of being too good for the rest of the Big 12 schools.
Had the Pac-12 worked to swipe some combination of Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, Kansas, Kansas State, Baylor and TCU, it would’ve further threw the Big 12 down the pecking order. Instead, the Pac-12 joined a HANDSHAKE alliance with the Big Ten and ACC just in time for the Big Ten to go against said alliance and steal USC and UCLA.
Yes, Bob Bowlsby and Brett Yormark did an outstanding job at restabilizing the Big 12 after OU and Texas left, but the Pac-12 didn’t do itself any favors by thinking itself too good for middle America. It’s very much the “call an ambulance but not for me” meme.
It’s crazy to think that at this point OU and Texas leaving the Big 12 has now been harder on the Pac-12 than it has the Big 12. The Pac-12 fumbled this thing hard.
3. Colorado Needs Some Work
I’m happy Colorado is (reportedly) rejoining the Big 12. I think the Buffaloes fit with this geographic region much more than they do with the Pac-12, but let’s not act like Colorado has been a Tier 1 athletic program since leaving the Big 12 after 2010.
Since joining the Pac-12, Colorado has been to just two bowl games and lost them both. The Buffaloes are 48-94 in football since joining the Pac-12. It seems as if Deion Sanders has breathed new life into that program, but it’s tough to say just how successful the project will be at this point considering Colorado hasn’t played a game under Sanders yet.
Colorado has fared a little better in basketball, having made five NCAA Tournaments since joining the Pac-12. That’s the same amount of tournaments Oklahoma State has made in that time frame.
Everyone is excited for Colorado to move back into the league, so here is to hoping this move is beneficial for the league and the school.
4. What’s Next?
If there is anything we’ve learned over the past few years its that when the conference realignment train starts moving, news comes fast. I write that to say hopefully this doesn’t instantly go out of date.
As someone who still wants some sort of geography within college athletic conferences, I’m team four-corner schools. The big game-hunting answer would be for the Big 12 to go after Oregon, but having Oregon and UCF in the same conference hurts my brain to think about.
I could be persuaded, but I think I prefer Utah if I had to pick one of the remaining four-corner schools because I like the idea of adding the Holy War rivalry into a league that lost Bedlam and the Red River game. I know the Utah AD has pooh-poohed the idea of joining the Big 12 in recent months, but things have obviously changed.
The Colorado domino falling, I imagine, will force something else to happen on the Pac-12 front, whether that be other schools jumping ship or the Pac-12 working quickly to try to add some combination of San Diego State, UNLV and Colorado State. So as far as the question of “what’s next?” I don’t know that we’ll have to wait too long to find an answer.