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Colorado very interested in the Pac 10

The possibility of the Pac 10 expanding to twelve teams received a boost yesterday when officials at the University of Colorado said they were willing to take a serious look at making the move if asked by the Pac 10.

The very real thing that would drive this for Colorado isn't just expanded revenue. The simple fact that the majority of the schools alumni base resides West of the Contininental Divide would be a major factor in considering such a move.

One factor weighing for the Pac-10 is CU's alumni presence on the West Coast. According to CU's alumni office, there are 29,096 known alums in California and 15,245 combined in the other three Pac-10 states.

Any game in the Pac-10 would create an opportunity for alumni events and fundraising.

"Our alumni base is stronger in the Pac-10 areas than in the Big 12," DiStefano said. "That's certainly something to consider, especially when the team travels."

The Denver Post

Future revenue of course is the ultimate decision maker for any school right now. Colorado won't be making a move if they make less money in the Pac 10 than they do in the Big 12. Same thing goes for a Pac 10 invitation to join. The existing 10 schools need to be assured that they will get a bigger slice of a bigger pie if two additional members are added to the conference.
Colorado is a great fit on paper for the Pac 10. Denver is the 5th largest TV market in the West and ranks 18th overall in the nation. Adding Denver is very similar to adding a Seattle. The school has an outstanding academic reputation which would only be enhanced by joining the conference.
One other thing that is driving Colorado's interest is the lack of perceived loyalty within the Big 12. The league which was formed in the early 1990's after the breakup of the SWC is a marriage of convenience for all of its members. It doesn't have the history of the Big Ten/ Pac Ten or the type of academic alliances which go beyond sports which bring in the major research dollars.
Another thing that could drive the breakup of the Big 12 as we now know it is the resentment by Northern members of the Southern/Texas powerbase that has developed since the merger. Nebraska AD Tom Osborne voiced that concern yesterday in an interview stating that his school would be willing to listen to the Big 10 if they came calling.
"I would have to say the center of gravity has moved south," he said. "You’d have to say that trend to the south still continues to this day, which is a little concerning sometimes for people in the north part of the Big 12."

That type of talk and the very real possibility that the Big 10 will poach one or more teams from the league has schools like Colorado setting a fast track for leaving the conference. According to reports out of Denver the Buffaloes would announce the move to leave before July of 2010 so they could join the Pac 10 in 2012 just in time for a new TV contract and a championship football game.