Ask a Colorado fan and they'll tell you the Pacific 10 is the place to be.
"The Pac-10 is sexier and smarter than the Big 12 and we want in," a description on the Facebook page Fans of CU Joining the Pac-10 says. "We are firm believers that University of Colorado is far more compatible with the Pac-10 Conference culturally, academically and athletically."
It adds: "Would you rather travel to conference matchups at Eugene or Lawrence? Tempe or Lincoln? Seattle or Waco? You get the point."
Membership would come at a cost.
Under Big 12 rules, Colorado must give two years notice if it plans to withdraw from the league and would forfeit 50% of its conference distribution for both years, according to the Boulder Daily Camera.
That would be approximately $9 million.
The athletic department has an operating budget of about $45 million, which means a forfeiture of roughly 10%. That's a lot of money for a department that balked at firing Dan Hawkins because a $3 million separation package was viewed as too steep a price.
Nonetheless, the pluses outweigh the minuses. Colorado has 4,523 alumni in Iowa, Kansas, Missouri, Nebraska and Oklahoma combined. The largest numbers of alumni in another Big 12 state are the 6,244 in Texas.
By comparison, there are 23,137 alumni in California, 3,755 in Arizona, 2,983 in Oregon and 5,113 in Washington. That's 34,988 alumni in Pac-10 conference territory compared to 10,767 in Big 12 country. Another 1,200 alums live in Utah, which is considered to be the Pac-10's other expansion target.
Colorado generally draws less than 1,000 fans to Big 12 road games. A 2007 game at Arizona State attracted 7,000 supporters.
Pac-10 officials are gathering in Los Angeles this week for the conference's basketball tournament, and expansion is expected to be discussed. in June, the Pac-10 Chief Executive Officers Group will meet in the Bay Area. That is likely the earliest a decision about expansion would be made.
Daily Camera columnist Neill Woelk writes that Colorado nearly joined the Pac-10 in 1994.
"The Pac-10's invitation — also extended to Texas at the time — merited some serious thought. Serious enough, anyway, that it was brought to a vote before CU's regents.
"The final tally was 5-4 to decline the invitation.
"The irony? Had the vote been taken less than one month later, CU would be in the Pac-10 today. Three regents who had been elected in November 1994 were in favor of the move, but had not yet been sworn in as members. They were allowed to listen to the debate before the decision, but could not vote.
"One month later, all three would have been official members of the board — and all three would have voted to join the Pac-10. It would have been enough to send Colorado west."
Woelk says Colorado should not make the same mistake twice.
"The marketing and fundraising possibilities that would exist if CU had a steady West Coast presence would be enormous. CU would likely not only recoup its original athletic department investment in a few years; it would also significantly increase its overall fundraising income."