CU Football has officially left the Pac-12 and will move back to the Big 12. That was the blockbuster college football realignment news which came out yesterday.

On the football field, Colorado and Colorado State have long been rivals. Well, that depends on which fanbase you ask—CU fans deny CSU as a rival even though they call Colorado State “little brother”, while Rams fans definitely see the Buffaloes as a rival.

The two have played 82 games dating back to 1902 and were once part of the Rocky Mountain Conference together; that seemingly qualifies as rivalry territory.

Ironically, it’s possible the University of Colorado’s move from the Pac-12 to the Big 12 may have actually helped out “little brother” CSU, opening up a spot in the crumbling Power 5 conference. (Note: Colorado State was founded in 1870, CU in 1876.)

Pac-12 losing members, needs new teams fast

The Pac-12 is quickly falling apart.

UCLA and USC are leaving the conference to join the Big Ten in 2024, which will actually give the conference 16 members starting in 2024.

Following closely on their heels, CU is now leaving the Pac-12, and according to Action Network, the Big 12 is looking to poach Utah, Arizona and Arizona State from the Pac-12, too.

Others are rumoring that Oregon and Washington want to leave the Pac-12 as well, which has many wondering what will happen to the stumbling, bumbling P5 conference.

Currently, there are nine members of the Pac-12: Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Oregon, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah, Washington, and Washington State. And it would seem, at the very least, the conference needs to fill the voids USC, UCLA and CU have left, with possibly another team joining the mix as another could also jettison the league.

It’s also important to note the Pac-12 put out a statement last night about expansion, saying they will immediately expand, but need to secure their media rights deal first. That’s been an on-going work-in-progress for the last year:

And according to Heather Dinich, the Big 12 is looking for “one more” team:

That means, unless something different happens, the Pac-12 will have either eight or nine members going into 2024 when the dust settles this summer.

Could Colorado State finally jump up to the P5?

Hey, CU left the Pac-12, so would Colorado State make sense as a replacement? It’s possible, as the league would want to grab a piece of that coveted Denver media market, even if Fort Collins owns a smaller share than does Boulder.

Rewind to 2015 and CSU actually applied to be part of the Big 12’s expansion nearly a decade ago. They missed out back then, but are they in better position to join a P5 now?

In 2015, the Rams were coming off three straight winning seasons and hope of graduating to a P5 conference was high. Since then, the team has floundered, with two winning years followed by five straight losing seasons.

However, in the short term, there’s hope in Fort Collins that Jay Norvell is going to elevate Colorado State back to a prominent position. His recruiting has been stellar and this will be his first true year with a full roster. So, it’s unfair to judge him on the 3-9 2022 campaign.

In the long term, Colorado State is well positioned with the new (2017), brilliant Canvas Stadium on campus, while other sports like men’s and women’s basketball, track and field, and volleyball have all performed well in recent years.

Of course, winning on the football field would have better positioned Colorado State to finally make the move to a Power 5 conference, but the school can only look forward with hope right now.

What teams would be possible partners with CSU to join Pac-12?

San Diego State tried to join the Pac-12, announced they were going to, and then never got the invite. Now, the Mountain West is charging them $17 million for exiting the conference and then reversing course.

SDSU has been great on the football field as of late, with a 12-2 record and a Top-25 ranking in 2021, and their basketball program made it to the NCAA Tournament’s Championship Game in April. They’d be a fantastic addition to the Pac-12.

Other possibilities from the Mountain West include Boise State, UNLV and Fresno State. Keep in mind the Pac-12 is mostly comprised of schools based on the west coast, with Arizona (2) and Utah (1) also home to teams. So, that’s where Fresno State gets a possible help up. However, they’d likely be last among CSU, Boise and UNLV.

UNLV is enticing because of the market in Las Vegas. Keep in mind the Mountain West Basketball Tournament is hosted at the Thomas & Mack Center in Vegas, while the Pac-12’s tourney is played at the T-Mobile Arena. Could picking up UNLV mean the Pac-12 gets to play at the bigger, better arena? Speaking of arenas, UNLV is playing at Allegiant Stadium, the home of the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders. That’s a huge feather in their cap.

As for Boise State, they were long the best team in the Mountain West Conference in terms of football. However, they have come back to earth a bit in recent years. In fact, from 2002-2019, Boise State was in the Top-25 every year, and they’ve missed out on that honor since. Still, the Broncos are annually one of the best in the Mountain West on the football field, even if they lack in terms of academics and their location—Idaho.

And one more team which has been brought up in possible expansion of the Pac-12 is SMU.

SMU is in the AAC, another G5 conference similar to the MWC, so moving up to a P5 would be a huge step up for them. One downside is they are located far away from the West Coast, but being in Texas could work in their favor considering the deep high school football ties there.

For what it’s worth, CBS’ article from a few hours ago lists SDSU and SMU as priorities, with Boise, Fresno and UNLV as secondary candidates to join the Pac-12. No mention of Colorado State from them.

According to this anonymous person on Twitter—who was right about CU leaving the Pac-12 for months—CSU was contacted by the Pac-12 and put on “standby.”

Oh, and these Boise State fans don’t like CSU or their fans. Take that however you see fit, but it seems like the guys covering Boise are worried CSU will get in over them: