Colorado chancellor shoots down rumors of Buffs leaving Pac-12

Colorado Buffaloes. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images)
Colorado Buffaloes. (Photo by Ralph Freso/Getty Images) /

Despite an unresolved media rights deal, Colorado is not about to bail on the Pac-12 just yet.

For the time being, Colorado chancellor Phil DiStefano has reassured everyone just how committed the Buffaloes are to staying part of the Pac-12.

DiStefano spoke with Sean Keeler of the Denver Post about his university’s plans to stay in the same league it has been a part of for well over a decade now. This comes less than a year removed from USC and UCLA announcing they will be joining the Big Ten in 2024. The Big 12 added BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF on July 1. For next year, the SEC will be gaining Oklahoma and Texas.

All the while, a 10-team Pac-12 remains without a long-term media rights deal as a conference on life support. Still, DiStefano remains very confident about where the Buffaloes stand in its league.

"“[Colorado’s] goal is to stay within the Pac-12 and have a media deal coming up shortly. That’s our goal. And I believe the presidents and chancellors of the Pac-12 are together on that.”"

With Deion Sanders now in Boulder, Colorado has emerged as a very intriguing conference expansion asset for a league like the Big 12. In theory, the Four Corner universities (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah) would all be fantastic additions for an increasingly strong Big 12. While Brett Yormark is thriving, George Kliavkoff is hanging on by a thread. Something has to give.

Whether or not Colorado decides to stay or go, what makes the most sense for CU going forward?

Colorado chancellor squashes rumors of Buffaloes’ imminent Pac-12 departure

I have to be honest. I don’t think Colorado was better off leaving the Big 12 for the Pac-12 when it did well over a decade ago. Regional rival Utah emerged as the major winner in that wave of realignment. This is because the Utes were going up a level from the Mountain West, whereas Colorado’s Big 12 departure felt more like a lateral move. However, it may serve them to stay now.

Pending media rights deal aside, the big question people like DiStefano need to ask themselves is what is the quickest and easiest way into the College Football Playoff? With USC and UCLA leaving for the Big Ten, the Big 12 gaining four strong former Group of Five programs and the Pac-12 having not added anyone to replace the Bruins and Trojans just yet, just stay, man. Just stay…

Yes, the Pac-12 has other incredible programs beyond the ones that are leaving it. Oregon and Washington are traditional powers. Utah is a powerhouse under Kyle Whittingham. Oregon State has a fantastic head coach in Jonathan Smith leading his alma mater. And then there is Colorado, now being guided back to national relevancy by Coach Prime. Oh, the Buffs can so win this league!

Truth be told, I am highly skeptical that a 10-team Pac-12 would ever get more than one team into the expanded College Football Playoff. The SEC will probably get in at least four. The Big Ten will lock up at least three bids. The Big 12 is getting in at least two every year for sure. The ACC will get a team, maybe two, in annually. Then you add the Group of Five champion and where are the bids?

As long as the Pac-12 can secure a halfway decent media rights deal and every remaining program puts forth a concerted effort on the football field, it will start to look more attractive. Say a San Diego State and an SMU come aboard to get it back to 12 teams. That might be enough to get the league into a good enough spot to get maybe two teams into the 12-team playoff then.

For the time being, it makes way more sense for Colorado to stay in the Pac-12 than to leave it.

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