June 7, 2010 #49 Whither Thou Goest, Buffs?
By Mike Moran
The Colorado Springs Sports Corporation
Having stood on point in the hellish vortex of swirling controversies during forty years in my career—-Chuck Fairbanks leaving the New England Patriots to become CU’s head football coach, two Olympic boycotts, Tonya-Nancy in 1994, a never-ending parade of USOC chief executives and presidents resigning, steroid charges, Congressional hearings and a failed Olympic bid by New York among scores, I’m feeling it today for University of Colorado Athletic Director Mike Bohn……….. the estimable Buff executive is ensnared in what will turn out to be the biggest shakeup in college sports in my lifetime, a possible remake of the entire landscape of conferences, driven by football, with the distinct possibility that there will be many institutions left on the sidelines by the formation of “super conferences, ” involving the Big 12, Big Ten, and PAC-10……….. this looks likely to shake out by the end of July, but the stakes are huge as college presidents and ADs gyrate like Kukla, Fran and Ollie to the tune of billions of dollars of potential television revenue and the shoddy shell game facing football programs across the land……….. throw away anything you felt was going to last forever in college football, because there is about to be a seismic shock wave that will leave only the strongest standing…….. recent thought centered around expansion of the Big Ten to include Notre Dame, and perhaps Nebraska and Missouri from the Big 12, and this weekend, a report that the PAC-10 would invite Texas. Texas A&M, Oklahoma, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech and Colorado to join the league and create a division with Arizona and Arizona State, which would destroy the Big 12…………Orangebloods.com , the Austin, Texas-based affiliate of rivals.com, reported Sunday that Colorado, along with Nebraska and Missouri, was given a deadline by the Big 12 of roughly June 15 to decide whether to commit to remaining in the Big 12……….. but now, according to new media reports, the Buffs could end up with the short end of the stick because of Texas politics, being shoved aside by Baylor……… e-mails from prominent Austin lobbyist and Baylor regent Buddy Jones have been discovered, sent to Baylor alumni and supporters in the Texas Legislature. The e-mails were obtained by The Dallas Morning News. In one from Sunday, “Ole Buddy” Jones, in the midst of a conniption, worries about the Pac-10 inviting Colorado instead of Baylor………..” My guess is that Colorado hasn`t taken enough broadside hits to sink their boat yet and they may well be on the invite list,” “Hoss” Jones said during a hissy fit, “I hope I’m wrong. But there`s still time left to change the scoreboard. We aren’t through.” Jones also hoped for support from Texas, A&M and Tech. In one e-mail, he said Texas was solidly in Baylor’s corner but wondered about A&M`s commitment. Another e-mail from “Texas Forever” Jones urged the alums in the Legislature to call key officials at Texas, A&M and Tech. It provided talking points about why those schools should throw their weight behind Baylor instead of Colorado. “We need to stop any bleeding that this PAC-10 offer might have caused for Baylor quickly,” Jones wrote. In a subsequent e-mail he referenced the importance of legislative involvement. “It is imperative that whatever happens the four Texas schools (and hopefully OU and OSU) agree to stick together,” Jones wrote. “United we stand. And the three public Universities you all are contacting understand the importance of an issue that touches 20 of their bosses in the Legislature.” Another e-mail, sent Sunday, referenced “great progress over the last 48 hours.” ……………. (What’s the old galoot going to do if he doesn’t get his way, stop spending the summer in Estes Park?) …… the Denver Post reported this morning that one puffed up Texas pol was quoted as saying “If you’re going to have an exported commodity involved in this, do you think we’re going to allow a school from outside the state of Texas to replace one of our schools in the Big 12 South?” the legislator told the website. “I don’t think so. We’re already at work on this.” Yup, right out of “Friday Night Lights, ” comes all of this from Texas, acting like Notre Dame in a mad rush to be the biggest dog in the fight and determine the fates of schools elsewhere…….. one additional report mentioned that the PAC-10 might not look kindly on Colorado because the Buffs don’t play baseball and other spring sports, which Baylor does………. on June 11, 1980, CU dropped baseball, wrestling, swimming and other “non-revenue” sports during a budget crisis, and the sports have never been restored in Boulder………. if the Good Old Boys in the Texas state legislature get their way, and the Big 10 and PAC-10 scenarios become reality, this could leave CU without a conference, along with Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State…………. what then? This is where Mountain West Conference Commissioner Craig Thompson, the brightest star among the roster of conference executives, enters the stage…………Here is what I wrote on January 27, 2009, when the first notable rumors of the sweeping realignment began to percolate…………. ”The CU Buffs In The Mountain West Conference? What if the landscape in college athletics were to change dramatically in the next decade? What would the Buffs bring the MWC? ………. a solid athletic reputation (22 NCAA titles in sports), a major Metro area, marvelous facilities, media exposure, and a solid network of contacts……and what then for CU? ……. the automatic BCS berth for the MWC football champion thanks to Thompson’s handiwork (which now may include the addition of Boise State to the league)………. and despite the history of rivalries with the Huskers, Longhorns, Sooners, Jayhawks and Tigers, Buff fans might embrace heated football showdowns with Air Force (a great series that ended in 1974 by one or the other and somehow now is seemingly impossible to re-start), CSU (they get almost 70,000 in Denver now), a bona fide Utah program, a sleeping giant in BYU, and a Western rivalry with Wyoming, for starters…….. not to mention a massive regional alumni base from MWC schools who would be inclined to buy tickets for games in Boulder……and, it would give Bohn three non-conference dates to fill with, on occasion, Nebraska, UCLA, Iowa, Stanford, Cal, Washington, Illinois, Texas, Oklahoma….. maybe even Notre Dame……big payoffs, big TV, big implications……so, too, for CU basketball in a very tough MWC……and coach Jeff Bzdelik would not lose the option of great Holiday Tourney appearances, either, or a number of attractive non-conference game options……Coors Events center tilts with the likes of UNLV, CSU, Utah, New Mexico, BYU and Air Force tickle one’s imagination, as well as the potential of bringing the MWC Tourney back to Denver………in the era of new alignments, the MWC member status for the Buffs in all sports might also attract some upgraded additional attention in the state’s sports media, which dotes on the Broncos and the other Denver pro teams, one wag calling Bronco football “the state’s secular religion” in a recent column……. looking back, the leather-helmeted Buffs of yore were actually members of the Mountain States Conference, which included Utah, Denver, Utah State, BYU, and Wyoming before joining the Big Seven Conference in 1948……. that move spawned the label of “Big Time Cholly” applied to the ambitious Buffs by Denver Post sportswriter/cartoonist Bob Bowie….. ….. and in the 1980s, as Bill McCartney was beginning to put CU football back on the national map, the school went as far as actually exploring the possibility of joining the PAC-10 Conference………not likely, this stuff, but ’ya never know”…………that was then, and this is now, stay tuned and keep your seat-belt buckled, y’all. And do come by for our June 29 Sports Corp Football Kickoff Luncheon at the Colorado Springs Marriott at noon……Bohn will be on the stage, and he may have a lot to tell us.
Mike Moran was the chief spokesman for the United States Olympic Committee through thirteen Games, 1980-2002. The Omaha, Nebraska native was the Sports Information Director at the University of Colorado for a decade before joining the USOC in 1978 as it left New York City for Colorado Springs. He was the Senior Communications Counselor for NYC2012, New York City’s Olympic bid group from 2003-2005 and is now a media consultant.