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Colorado Buffs to join the Pac 10 despite NCAA penalties, major recent suckage

The CU Buffs will reportedly announce tomorrow that they're leaving the Big 12 in favor of the Pac 10 -- proof that future potential trumps present mediocrity.

This news is certainly better than yesterday's development, when CU confirmed that it was one of only two BCS schools -- the other being Syracuse -- that had been penalized by the NCAA for falling short of academic standards. But unlike Syracuse, whose very good basketball team was also cited, CU didn't manage to parlay a bad classroom report card into strong performances on either the football field or the basketball court.

Moreover, CU's basketball team recently lost coach Jeff Bzdelik, who has been credited with pushing the squad back toward respectability. And the football program, led by bargain-basement-priced coach Dan Hawkins, is currently a tremendously unfunny joke.

Luckily for CU, none of that mattered to the Pac 10 as much as access to Denver's relatively untapped television market, which boosted the university's bid above that of Baylor, based in the comparatively TV-revenue-unfriendly berg of Waco, Texas. And while it appeared that CU was playing coy when it came to conference-switching, and possibly squandering the opportunity for tons of extra dough per annum that will be produced by a supersized Pac 10, administrators were likely busy behind the scenes. When Nebraska made the leap to the Big 10 yesterday, they were ready to jump in a different direction.

Expect the days and weeks ahead to be filled with nostalgic ruminations about those Nebraska, Texas and Oklahoma faceoffs that are unlikely to happen regularly under the new configuration. But CU hasn't really been all that competitive in those contests for years, and an infusion of cash should allow the school to make key decisions -- like the choice to keep or jettison Hawkins -- for athletic reasons instead of financial ones.

Clearly, CU fans should be celebrating this move, which could be just the thing to supercharge football and basketball programs that seemed destined to be stuck in low gear for years to come.

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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