Colorado remains uncertain of when they will leave the Big 12 and join the Pac 10 but it is appearing more and more certain that the changeover will not happen until the 2012 season. Speaking before the media on Saturday before Colorado’s game against Cal Pac 10 commissioner Larry Scott said the chances of Colorado joining the conference next year were “less than 50-50.”
The major hold-up for Colorado is the money issue. Leaving the Big 12 in 2011 would bring a higher exit penalty than a departure in 2012 would bring to the school. For a school that appears to be having some money issues, as evidenced by the hefty paycheck the school will receive for a road game at Ohio State next season, it makes sense that Colorado would prefer to hold off until 2012.
Scott suggested that the Pac 10 would be willing to help with some of the costs for Colorado but there are too many uncertainties right now in terms of finances for the conference to commit to any aid at this time. If the conference knew Colorado was committed to joining in 2011 the Pac 10 could settle on details for a championship game venue and television rights. That money could then be used to help out Colorado paying the Big 12.
“But what I have said is that we can`t anticipate new revenue until we enter to new TV agreements or start a football championship,” Scott said. “So, there`s too many unknowns right now and we couldn`t commit to anything concrete. If they work at it and they come to us, we`ll see what the situation is at that stage.”
Utah is still on schedule to join the conference next season, leaving the Mountain West Conference. Utah’s switch to the Pac 10 will go much easier than Colorado because there is no exit fee being charged to the Utes program by the Mountain West Conference, who will also be losing BYU to football independency.
If Colorado does not join the Pac 10 next season the western conference that officially started the tidal wave of a realignment process in college athletics this off-season will be taking a back seat for a season because of the school they first invited. The Mountain West had already invited Boise State to their conference but when the Pac-10 invited Colorado they took the lead in the realignment battles this off-season as the Big Ten had yet to make their first official move, adding Nebraska. Nebraska will join the Big Ten next season and the details for the first Big Ten championship game and division alignments have already been announced.
The Mountain West has already made their moves as well with additions of Fresno State and Nevada padding the Boise State addition. The Pac 10 continues to sit with their hands in their laps as they await a final decision from Colorado on what year they will join. Scott mentioned that there is a soft-deadline for Colorado to decide what they will do of mid-October but he also stressed that the timetable was not necessarily written in stone. “That`s a self-imposed deadline,” he said. “We could (move it back) on the one hand, but I think we`re going to hit a point in time where any planning for a football championship game, television scheduling, it would be problematic. So, I think we`ve set it as an internal timetable.”
As soon as Colorado confirms their plan the Pac 10 can begin to set-up a conference schedule for the next two seasons as well as begin the process to determine the details for any conference championship game possibilities.