With the latest round of realignment having slowed to a crawl after a tumultuous two years, it appears as it may be close to picking up steam again. Colorado has been in "substantive" talks with the Big 12 about possibly joining the growing league, a source with knowledge of the discussions tells CBS Sports.
While a move out of the Pac-12 is not assured, Colorado is performing due diligence to determine whether to return to the conference it once called home. The Buffaloes, like the rest of the Pac-12, remain in wait-and-see mode regarding a new media rights deal that has yet to be solidified.
Colorado and the Big 12 have met face-to-face while involved in consistent talks over a period several months, according to multiple sources. It was made clear that a move to the Big 12 would not be made without the support of football coach Deion Sanders.
CU's rumored Big 12 interest was the talk of the Fiesta Summit earlier this month in Scottsdale, Arizona, with several sources speculating in the hallways. It became more public last week when the Oklahoman's Berry Tramel reported, "Colorado is ready to commit joining the Big 12 'soon.'"
"I have no comment other than what I said last week," Colorado athletic director Rick George told CBS Sports while not exactly shooting down the Big 12 talks. "We are proud members of the Pac-12. In a perfect world, we'd love to be in the Pac-12, but we also have to do what is right for Colorado at the end of the day."
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff had no comment, while a representative for Sanders did not respond to CBS Sports' request.
It is expected that Colorado would receive an equal media rights share ($31.7 million, beginning in 2025) to join the Big 12, making the move even more attractive. The league's contract with ESPN and Fox is believed to guarantee an equal share for any expansion teams so long as they are currently Power Five members.
Big 12 schools are expected to get an update about expansion prospects this week during conference spring meetings in West Virginia. There remains the feeling out there that, should Yormark can get one Pac-12 school to defect, it would create a domino effect leading to the other Four Corners schools -- Arizona, Arizona State and Utah -- fleeing for the Big 12 as well.
Adding those four programs would satisfy part of Yorkmark's desire to become the only conference with teams in all four time zones.
The Pac-12 remains in flux not knowing what kind of media right deal it will make. The Big 12 figure has become the base line for comparison; anything close to $31.7 million per team enhances the league's chances of moving forward with its 10 current members and potentially expanding with San Diego State and SMU considered strong candidates.
The Pac-12 continues to expect that a deal will be announced in the late spring or early summer. CBS Sports reported earlier this month that the conference remains confident it will land a media rights deal with a major carrier.
Colorado is a Big 12 legacy program having played in the old Big Seven, Big Eight and Big 12 from 1948-2010. It won a share of the national championship as a Big Eight member in 1990. The Buffs are coming off an 1-11 season with one winning campaign since 2005, though they have been the talk of the college football offseason due to the hiring of Sanders.