What Colorado Football’s move to Big 12 means for college football

Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders before the start of the spring game at Folsom Filed. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 22, 2023; Boulder, CO, USA; Colorado Buffaloes head coach Deion Sanders before the start of the spring game at Folsom Filed. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports /

Colorado football is reportedly going to leave the Pac-12 conference for the Big 12 conference and here’s what that could mean for college football. 

College football realignment is far from over and it appears that another domino is about to fall as Colorado football is reportedly preparing to make a move to the Big 12.

Pete Thamel of ESPN reported earlier on Wednesday that Colorado football was discussing the move from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 and that story has only continued to develop.

Brett McMurphy is reporting that the move is a done deal and it certainly looks that way. For the Big 12, it would be a good move. The conference has suffered a number of losses over the years, starting with Nebraska and Colorado, as well as Missouri, then following with Oklahoma and Texas going to the SEC.

The Big 12 added BYU, Cincinnati, UCF, and Houston for the 2023 season. Colorado football sounds like it will be added for the 2024 season. You wonder if the Big 12 will make a push to add another team — the Colorado addition would put the league at 13 teams.

Since divisions aren’t really a thing anymore, conferences don’t necessarily need an even number of teams. But on a larger scale, this will lead to some major changes in college football, and here are some thoughts on what could happen next.

What happens next if Colorado football moves back to the Big 12

My first thought was that the Big Ten will make a run at Oregon and Washington. Those schools make a lot of sense in terms of Big Ten expansion and now that the Pac-12 could be falling apart, they probably be more open to moving.

The Pac-12 was already having trouble putting together a media rights deal. Now, Colorado football is leaving and one thing you can say about the Big Ten — is that every team in the conference is going to be loaded with money.

Oregon and Washington would get the Big Ten into Seattle and Portland. Heck, they could even make a run at the Arizona teams to make it an even 20. Then you would add Phoenix and other big cities into the league’s coverage area.

From New Jersey to Seattle, to LA, to Phoenix, and a lot of territory in between could belong to the Big Ten. That’s a stretch but if the Big Ten is willing to add two California teams, I don’t see much of anything being off the table.

The more West Coast teams are added, the easier it would be for USC and UCLA to assimilate into the league. It would also make travel and scheduling a little easier.

In another domino, the Pac-12 could look to replace Colorado football with a program like San Diego State or even Boise State.

The Broncos are the biggest college football brand outside of Notre Dame still not in a Power-5 conference. The Pac-12 would make a ton of sense. Maybe Fresno State and San Diego State get added too, putting the league back to 12.

In short, the move by Colorado football to the Big 12, if it happens, will cause a bunch of other moves across the landscape of college football.

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My prediction is that it will lead to chaos and more college football realignment and depending on how it responds, it could bring about the death of the Pac-12, at least in terms of it being viewed as a Power-5 conference in college football.