In the latest domino to fall in the college football conference realignment saga, signs are pointing towards Deion Sanders and the Colorado Buffaloes leaving the Pac-12.
According to Dean Straka with CBS Sports, the Big 12 university presidents have voted unanimously to allow the Buffaloes to make their return to the conference after previously leaving for the Pac-12 back in 2011.
This is an important move for both sides, as the Big 12 has been scrambling to replace the enormous losses of Texas and Oklahoma after the two rivals announced an upcoming move to the SEC. It's also something of a surprise move, as Colorado had previously indicated a desire to stay within the Pac-12. That being said, there have definitely been winds of change blowing through Boulder. Obviously, the arrival of one of the biggest names in the sport, head coach Deion Sanders, has immediately changed the profile of the program, one that has not had much recent on-field success.
Colorado has just one winning season (excluding the six-game COVID schedule) since joining the Pac-12 and most recently finished just 1-11 in 2022. The Buffaloes also had a brutal five-year run of losing seasons before departing the Big 12, so that's one solid campaign since 2006. Even so, the arrival of Coach Prime has changed perception of the team, which is the No. 1 bet-on team to make or even win the College Football Playoff, depending on the sportsbook.
Why Does Colorado Want Out Of the Pac-12?
The university has also been displeased with the conference's long and laborious television deal negotiations, an issue the Big 12 is not experiencing right now. This could spell trouble for the Pac-12, which is already in trouble after losing major on-field and financial assets UCLA and USC to the Big Ten.
With schools like Oregon and Washington, or even Bay Area rivals Stanford and California, sniffing around for new opportunities, losing Colorado like this in the wake of the Los Angeles schools' departures could be a devastating blow for the conference. That would be quite the unfortunate development for a Pac-12 that looks like it will be really entertaining this season, and might be entering a golden age of sorts if not for the loss of member schools.
It's worth noting that while the Big 12 has approved the move, Colorado itself has not made a public or official commitment in any way. The board has discussed the matter, but a more public meeting and corresponding vote is required in order for the move to be made official.
Colorado has a significant history with the Big 12 conference, of which they were a founding member back in 1994. At the time of the first Big 12 season in 1996, the Buffaloes were one of the premier teams in the country and entrenched in the best era in their history. They won a split national championship in 1990, and were annually bowl eligible in the 90s with 10-plus-win seasons being far from unexpected.
The Buffaloes won the Holiday Bowl in their first year with the conference, and their most recent bowl win was as a member of the Big 12 in the 2004 Houston Bowl. Coach Prime and the whole program will hope that a return to the conference is also a return to more on-field success for the football team.
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