On Friday, June 11th, the University of Colorado made a deal with the Pac-10: invite us into your conference, and we will provide you with one of the largest and most profitable TV markets in the country. The Buffaloes and their future conference each have separate reasons to join forces. Still, their ambitions aligned to make for a perfect union. Why are CU and the Pac-10 so good for each other?
The transfer has to do with much more than “a good fit, academically and athletically,” the blanket statement many are using to explain Colorado’s move. CU’s strong academic reputation does mesh well with Pac-10 schools (in the current Pac-10 academic rankings, it would rank #6, just below the University of Washington). Another motivation for the CU athletic department, though, is proximity to the West Coast. Teams will be able to recruit players from California more easily, coaches with family ties there will be able to get home more often, and instead of Lawrence, Kansas and Ames, Iowa, players will get a chance to travel to cities like Los Angeles and Seattle. Finally, the Buffs will be on a more equal playing field than they are in the Big 12, allowing for championship hopes.
For months, though, Colorado wondered whether it would even receive an invitation from the Pac-10. Recent basketball and football records have not been great, and for awhile, a school like Texas with stronger athletics seemed a more likely choice. But the Buffs do have one thing to offer that other schools don’t: the Denver TV market. With Colorado added to the conference, the Pac-10 now has access to four major markets, including Los Angeles, Seattle, and Phoenix – and that means money and exposure. In addition, if the Pac-10 ends up adding a twelfth school to the mix, they would be eligible for a conference championship game that would bring in even more revenue.
The Pac-10 hasn’t finished debating whether or not to pursue further expansion, and the Buffs still have to stick it out in the Big 12 for another 1-2 years while they await the completion of media contracts. One thing is for sure, though: the marriage of Colorado and the Pac-10 was a happy one, and it sure makes a lot of sense.