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Colorado accepts invitation to join Pac-10

Photo by Donna McWilliam

Photo by Donna McWilliam

DENVER -- The college sports landscape began a much-anticipated shift Thursday with the University of Colorado accepting an invitation to join the Pac-10.

The Buffaloes might not be the only team bolting from the Big 12. Nebraska could become part of the Big Ten as soon as Friday, and speculation is heavy that Texas, Texas A&M, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State may also jump to the Pac-10 to possibly form a 16-team super conference.

"This is the dawning of a new day for the Pac-10," commissioner Larry Scott said shortly after announcing Colorado as the conference's 11th member.

And this just might be the demise of the Big 12, the highly successful conference that was formed in 1994 when the Big Eight invited in the four Texas schools.

If the Big 12 is further raided as expected, that would leave Missouri, Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas and Kansas State out in the cold.

Any of these schools could be targets for the Mountain West Conference, which this week held off on inviting rising football power Boise State after speculation swirled about the possible unraveling of the Big 12.

"I continue to work through the process that was agreed upon last week by our board of directors to address membership issues, and am working tirelessly towards the long-term viability of the Big 12," Big 12 commissioner Dan Beebe said in a statement.

The Pac-10's last expansion came in 1978 when the conference added Arizona and Arizona State.

When word surfaced that the Pac-10 might be interested in as many as six Big 12 schools, Baylor alumni began lobbying for the Waco, Texas, school to supplant Colorado on the list of invitees. The Bears were concerned about losing traditional in-state rivals in any conference realignment.

Scott announced in February that the Pac-10 was exploring possible expansion. He was given the authority last weekend to offer invitations to potential new members.

"There's a lot of excitement and enthusiasm about our prospects going forward," Scott said. "We couldn't think of a school that's a better fit academically as well as athletically. This is a very exciting time."

Colorado president Bruce Benson echoed those thoughts, saying, "Our achievements and aspirations match those of the universities in the conference and we look forward to a productive relationship."

Buffaloes athletic director Mike Bohn didn't return a message Thursday, but is scheduled to be at a news conference Friday at Folsom Field.

Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne wasn't at all surprised by the Buffaloes' move out West.

"That's something we thought might happen," he said.

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AP Sports Writers Eric Olson, Arnie Stapleton and Josh Dubow contributed to this story.