It took a lot for me to dust off the old writing laptop (it’s the same laptop) and fire up the Chorus editor, but a lot is exactly what we have. Reports are now breaking all over the sports interwebs that former Big 12 member (founding member, actually) Colorado will rejoin the conference and may announce its decision to leave the Pac 12 do so within the next few hours or days. This move, if it happens, would be the next seismic shift in a now decade-long process of realignment at the highest level of college athletics and would follow several strong comments from Pac 12 leadership last week that no such moves would occur. We are all wrong sometimes. From Twitter:
Sources: Colorado is in discussions about a move to the Big 12, and the school has just completed a board meeting and scheduled another for tomorrow to discuss the move. The Big 12 is also holding a presidents meeting tonight where there's expected to be an expansion update.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) July 26, 2023
This was the first thing I saw about this approximately 90 minutes ago, but the news has spread like wildfire since (and possibly before) then, so I can’t say for sure who broke the news. Others have picked it up and even expounded on the reports:
Colorado is likely to move within the next 48 hours.— Jason Scheer (@jasonscheer) July 26, 2023
Also, there's another school in the Pac-12 beyond the rumored four corners that will surprise people and is seriously contemplating a jump to the Big 12.
Scheer (an Arizona-affiliated reporter for their 247Sports site) has been all over potential Pac 12 realignment for months, as have several folks closer to home (such as S11 at SicEm365.com), and is a worthy follow if you don’t already. Brandon Marcello, also of the 247Sports network, adds:
Colorado has set the stage to leave the Pac-12 and seek membership in the Big 12, "barring any unexpected hiccups" in the next 24 hours, reports @adamcm777.— Brandon Marcello (@bmarcello) July 26, 2023
Brett McMurphy also echoed the chorus that Colorado-to-the-Big-12 was basically a done deal barring some incredible happenings:
Colorado has scheduled a Board of Regents meeting for a 2nd consecutive day for Thursday, where the Buffs are expected to discuss & approve a move to the Big 12, sources told @ActionNetworkHQ. "It's 98 percent," source told @ActionNetworkHQ. Colorado has yet to apply for Big 12…— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) July 26, 2023
For my part, I’ll admit that I’ve been skeptical that this day (whether it is tomorrow, Friday, or shortly thereafter) would ever come, as we’ve seen false starts and bad rumors in realignment basically since realignment began. Everybody remembers those times when UT/OU and others were headed to the Pac 12, then the B1G, then definitely NOT the SEC, right? Same for A&M, which would reportedly never leave for the SEC then absolutely did. But after last week’s meetings where Pac 12 people reportedly expected to see a TV deal, or at a minimum TV numbers, and then got nothing, Colorado apparently decided that enough was enough. I think I speak for all of us when I welcome them back with open arms. A stronger Big 12 is great for Baylor, and we are undoubtedly a stronger Big 12 with more schools coming from other P5 conferences than we are otherwise.
As to who else might join a soon-to-be 13-team conference (assuming this report is actually true, and Colorado makes the decision to join), I can’t say. The supposition from Scheer in the Tweet above indicates that it might be someone outside of the “four corners” schools (Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah) that have long been considered the prime targets for Big 12 expansion (mostly due to proximity), but I haven’t seen much about who that might be. If/when we hear more, we will.
I want to stress that Colorado has not announced anything, nor would it until the decision is made. But if the announcement comes that Colorado is leaving the Pac 12 for the Big 12, you can assume that the rest is formality. Nobody (except San Diego State) leaves one conference without knowing they have an offer from another, and no offer is ever made to a school to do so unless the offer has already been approved.