Colorado for 12th Big Ten Team

Submitted by SFBlue on December 16th, 2009 at 6:01 PM
I am a little bit surprised that the University of Colorado does not get mentioned as a candidate for the additional Big Ten school, whereas Missouri, Nebraska, and Iowa State have all been discussed in earnestness in the media on on this blog.  I write to make the case for Colorado. 


Unless there is a football power that is available (as Penn State was in the early 90s), the most salient selection criteria should be something along the lines of "institutional similarity" to the schools in the Big Ten.  For the most part, the Big Ten is comprised of flagship state schools with very good to excellent academics, research prowess, and well-rounded athletic prowess, in no particular order (were I to pick an order, I would say the first two criteria are prerequisites, but that's just my particular bent).  Extra considerations are rivalries with league schools, proximity, and the catchall category of "soft variables." 


Colorado is no slouch.  It was ranked #77 by U.S. News in national universities, and has strong graduate programs in law, engineering, geology, physics, and education.  Additionally, it is affiliated with the AAU. 


The football team was a national power in the 1990s, and remains a solid program, with a large national alumni base, and better national brand recognition than any of the schools under serious consideration (with the exception of Nebraska, which is not really under serious consideration). 


Michigan fans of a certain vintage break out into a cold sweat at the very mention of the names Kordell Stewart and Micheal Westbrook, and the (in)glorious 64 yard hail mary.  The 1994 game was one is a series of good games, including 1996, when Michigan got revenge at Boulder, and in 1997 when Michigan steamrolled Colorado, making it clear the '97 team was special. 

There is admittedly not much beyond that, other than a Wisconsin-Colorado bowl game from the early 00s.  But other than PSU-Pitt, no other team under consideration offers the rivalry factor, and you have to go back even further (i.e., the early 80s) to find a time when said rivalry had national implications. 

Under the rubric of rivalries, it is worth mentioning that only one of Colorado's true rivals (Nebraska) are in the Big 12.  They could open the season with Colorado State, as they have always done, and schedule Nebraska non-conference from time to time. 


I have been to Boulder, and it feels like a Big Ten campus to me.  A great college town.  Also lefty, hip, and scenic.  Lots of places to see live music, etc.  Periodic road trips to Boulder beat trips to Syracuse or Pittsburg, for damn true.  

I think that it also has the potential to raise the national profile of the Big Ten in a way few other schools can do.  Neither Pitt or Syracuse has the national footprint that Colorado has.  An average nationally televised conference game with Colorado has a better chance of getting national exposure than either Syracuse or Pitt (or, for that matter, Missouri). 

Geographically, this is a stretch, but maybe not all that much of a stretch if Nebraska and Missouri are in contention. 



December 16th, 2009 at 6:11 PM ^

You're right, I think they should be considered, or at least mentioned in all the discussions. But I don't think it will happen.

I'm just guessing based on an amateur perception, but CU seems like a poor man's Nebraska. Nebraska has better football, a better fan base, is closer, and at least equally unlikely to leave the Big XII. If we can't get a team that is at least bordering a current state, I don't think it will be worth it. Travel, especially for non-revenue sports, will always be a big deal.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:41 PM ^

With all due respect, it is a heck of a lot easier to get to Boulder, a short drive from Denver, than it is to get to Lincoln. My family also spends at least a week of vacation in Colorado every year - summer's are even better than are the winters.

CU is anything but a poor man's school - lots of California kids who want to party and ski. There is a certain flavor that seems common to most Big Ten schools...and it is not in evidence in Boulder.

I think we can find a better fit.

Simi Maquoketa

December 16th, 2009 at 9:58 PM ^

Easier to get to Boulder than Lincoln from where? Estes Park?

Lincoln is right off I-80. You can almost see the stadium from the road.

And the OP says Colorado's football team is decent? Yeah, compared to, uh, well, last year's Michigan team.

But Colorado ROCKS--now THAT would be a great addition. But they are headed west if they leave the Big 12--and they just might. They had been (and still might be) rumored for the Pac 10 along with...TEXAS!!!

I used to live in Denver--there really aren't any negatives about that city, Boulder, or Colorado in general. I know I'm preaching to the choir here. Colorado would be cool as hell in the Big Ten--I'd go to a ton of games if that were to happen (the ones in Boulder).

Feat of Clay

December 17th, 2009 at 2:27 PM ^

Wait, what?

One of the incredibly stupid things about Nebraska is that they have TWO airports there in the east, one for Lincoln and one for Omaha. They split the air travel business which hurts both markets. What they really desperately need to do is consolidate it to one airport, preferably between the two cities. But Omaha doesn't want to give up its close airport.

At any rate, you can fly into either place. Omaha will leave you with an hour drive to Lincoln, but it's just ripping along I-80 and as we all know you can just point the vehicle west, set your alarm & cruise control, close your eyes, and wake up in your destination none the worse for wear.


December 16th, 2009 at 6:37 PM ^

I think this is a great idea, however ridiculous and absurd it is. Seeing the Wolverines at Folsom Field with Ralphie running around would be awesome.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:26 PM ^

they have an evil mojo over Michigan.
I was at the 1994 game - last second Hail Mary.

The only highlight of that day was when I was in the M-Den on State the whole Colorado cheerleader squad was buying souvenirs.
Colorado women are the hottest in the USA. Trust me, go to Boulder sometime.


December 16th, 2009 at 9:14 PM ^

1996 game was another close one. Michigan dominated, but Colorado had one last Hail Mary attempt as the clock ran out... It was batted away in the endzone, and nearly caught!

The 1997 game really exorcised the demons. Colorado was ranked, and it was a blow out. I remember eating grilled buffalo meat before the game on State Street.


December 17th, 2009 at 9:39 AM ^

I did too... IIRC, the outfit with the buffalo meat was brought in by Van Boven's shoes in Nickels Arcade as a promotion for one of their shoe lines that was made out of buffalo hide.

I still prefer dead cows, but the buffalo was OK.


December 17th, 2009 at 10:40 AM ^

Probably because year after year after year, that play continues to appear on highlight reels, "Best of" lists, etc... and probably will for another generation or so. And any of us that were around for that one cringe every time it's shown, or as the OP says, at the mention of those names. Hell, for me, just mention Colorado U, and that play is the first place my mind goes.

I for sure remember the '97 game. As I look back over all the games I've been to, that one definitely stands out as one of the most satisfying ever.


December 16th, 2009 at 7:32 PM ^

Colorado may be no slouch academically, but compared to what?

Its academic rank is many spots below Iowa, the current low point for Big Ten academics.

I've got nothing against Colorado - beautiful campus nestled in the foothills of the Rockies but the university just doesn't have the feel of a Big Ten school. As for the women....maybe Colorado would be a good fit.


December 18th, 2009 at 10:32 AM ^

While Colorado would be on the low end of academic programs, the difference between the 60s and 70s in the USNWR rankings, for example, is not as pronounced as the differences in the 20s and 30s. MSU, IU, and Iowa are all ranked 71st, and then Colorado is tied with a couple of schools for 77th. That is a difference of one point in USNWR's crazy, somewhat arbitrary metric, which shouldn't be a dealbreaker.

If the Big 11 really wants to expand and isn't going to snag Notre Dame, there really are not that many big state schools with solid academics AND solid athletics out there. Colorado would make about as much sense as Pitt or anyone else.


December 17th, 2009 at 2:47 AM ^

I like where this is going. My super-secret, probably going to get laughed at, dream world fantasy idea is this: 16 team super conference. Add Nebraska, Missouri, Colorado, Iowa State and one of the Big East schools (read: Pitt!).


December 17th, 2009 at 10:11 AM ^

Not a bad idea. I'd take Colorado or Nebraska over any Big East team. Having witnessed the Hail Mary in person, I'd love a chance to see us extract some annual revenge.


December 17th, 2009 at 12:53 PM ^

You wrote:

But other than PSU-Pitt, no other team under consideration offers the rivalry factor

Missouri-Illinois began in 1896 and has been played somewhat regularly since the 1960s (21 times since 1966), including 5 times since 2000. It even has a sponsor now, and is called the State Farm Arch Rivalry.


December 17th, 2009 at 3:11 PM ^

Other conference rivalry tidbits: Colorado played Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois non-conference during the 1990s. No doubt, this was McCartney's hand--Colorado's head coach was a Bo protegee. In fact, in 1990, when Colorado split the Mythical National Championship, Illinois was the one team that beat them.


December 17th, 2009 at 3:45 PM ^

The "highlight" has finally stopped appearing nearly as much as it used to. If Colorado joined, we'd have to sit through it a lot more forever. Every year that UM/Colorado was scheduled, we'd have to see it numerous times in the week leading up to the game. It would be as bad as it is for Miami fans still having to watch "Hail Flutie" at least ten times a year.

I already change the channel enough; I'd hate to have one of my ten least-favorite channel-changers of all time repeated ad nauseum again.


December 18th, 2009 at 3:51 PM ^

I think the trepidation with adding Colorado is that their program has been down for a few years. But Colorado is still a bigger program than all the other programs mentioned (except ND, Nebraska, or Texas).

I think CU would be a solid addition. They were the 15th winningest program of all time (ahead of Florida, Miami, etc.) a few years ago, until they stunk it up, and a few teams passed them. I think they are 18th now or something.

I think Colorado would be open to a move as well. There's been a lot of talk about Colorado being part of a Pac-10 expansion, so they'd most likely at least listen. Also, it should be noted that their biggest rivalry is with Colorado State, which would be unaffected by a move to the Big 10.


December 18th, 2009 at 7:25 PM ^

that would be a lovely thin-air experience for all of big ten athletics. this will not happen. ever. unless of course they suddenly become 600 miles closer or move to a somewhat decent state in terms of recruiting or market