Keeler: Do Buffs belong in Pac-12, Big Ten or Big 12? |

Keeler: Do Buffs belong in Pac-12, Big Ten or Big 12?

After Texas, Oklahoma jump to SEC, where do the Buffaloes roam?

Sean Keeler
The Denver Post
Buffaloes defensive end Mustafa Johnson (34) celebrates after sacking Cornhuskers quarterback Adrian Martinez (2), lower right, in overtime at Folsom Field September 07, 2019. Cornhuskers attempted and missed a field goal on the next play, handing the victory to the Buffs who won 34-31.
Andy Cross/The Denver Post

BOULDER — In a perfect world, CU would play USC and Nebraska in football every autumn. Right?

Buffs fans get their west coast excursions paid for by selling Big Red diehards their tickets at five times face value. Everybody wins!

Well, except for the Huskers. But that’s Scott Frost’s problem. Not yours.

Until then, if you and your buddies have been arguing lately as to which conference you’d like CU to be a member of in five years, now that Texas and Oklahoma have joined the SEC and taken a crowbar to the shins of their old Big 12 pals, welcome to the club.

Because the Buffs — well, the Buffs are kinda split on that one, too.

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Pac-12? Big 12? Big Ten?

“Pac-12,” one CU football player said Friday at the athletic department’s fall sports media day. “We haven’t beaten USC. And we haven’t beaten Utah since I’ve been here.”

“Big 12,” said another. “It’s a little more personal, in a way. I feel the Big 12 is better than the Pac-12.”

“Big Ten,” countered another. “There’s more money to be had over there. The conference has better fan-bases … there’s not much to do in those states.”

Hey, the man’s got a point.

Several, now that you mention it.

The Sooners and Longhorns reportedly aren’t bailing on the Big 12 until 2025, although you get the sense the moving trucks will swoop in sooner than that once the lawyers put their knives away. Buffs administrators say they’re happy where they are. Pac-12 and Big 12 potentates have reportedly discussed an alliance of some kind, moving forward. Everything’s on the stinking table.

“(Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff) looks at this as opportunity for our conference, not as ‘Woe is us,’” CU football coach Karl Dorrell said of realignment recently. “He looks at this as more of an opportunity for us getting a chance to bolster our conference and maybe with some additions of people coming into our conference.”

Buffs players, though?

Depends on whom you ask.

We talked to 18 of them on Friday, anonymously. And the takes were all over the map. Literally.

The votes

• Stay in Pac-12: 10 players

• Join Big Ten: 6 players

• Return to Big 12: 2 players

The comments


“There’s a lot of history with (CU) and the Pac-12.”

“Growing up as a California kid, I always loved the Pac-12. That was always my dream.”

“The Big 12 stinks. And the Big Ten is just a different brand.”

“We’re not leaving. We’re not leaving.”

“This is the place CU should be. I think, with our play-style, the Pac-12 fits us the best.”

Pro-Big 12

“It’s a little more personal, in a way. I feel the Big 12 is better than the Pac-12.”

“It’s a lot closer to home for me.”

“I want to play all those Texas schools.”

Pro-Big Ten

“I think it’s a beatable conference. And I think CU would do very well there.”

“Ohio State isn’t all that. Michigan isn’t all that.”

“That would be cool. I want to see the East Coast.”

“Fans won’t be disappointed. I think we’d do well in the conference.”

You’d hope.

In the meantime, the debate rages on.

Pac-12, Big 12 or Big Ten?

“Big Ten,” one young Buff replied.

OK. Why?

With that, the kid grinned from Niwot to North Platte.

“I just want to whip Nebraska’s behind.”

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