September 22, 2010
Whether Colorado joined the Pac-10 in 2011 or 2012 wasn't all that important to new basketball coach Tad Boyle.
All he wanted was a definitive answer to give recruits.
Boyle finally received what he wanted this week when Colorado and the Big 12 agreed on an exit settlement that allows the Buffaloes to leave a year ahead of schedule and avoid being the lame-duck school in an awkward 11-team league. Colorado and Utah will both join the Pac-10 in the 2011-12 school year.
"Now that the kids in California and the West Coast that we're involved with know what's happening, it's going to help," Boyle said. "The people who are recruiting against us won't be able to use that uncertainty as a sticking point. It wasn't a huge thing, but when you don't have a definitive answer to a question, it's never a good thing."
Moving to the Pac-10 a year ahead of schedule can only help a Colorado program that is showing signs of life after decades of mediocrity. Colorado endured its fourth straight losing season last year, but ex-coach Jeff Bzdelik left behind an intriguing nucleus for Boyle including a high-scoring backcourt of Alec Burks and Cory Higgins.
The biggest difference for Colorado in trading the Big 12 for the Pac-10 is that its recruiting base shifts westward. Only Higgins and freshman wing Keegan Hornbuckle were California natives on last year's roster, but Boyle is involved with a handful of coveted SoCal recruits in the class of 2011 including point guards Cezar Guerrero of St. John Bosco High and Spencer Dinwiddie of Taft High.
"Our focus and our recruiting base shifts a little bit, but it doesn't mean we can't recruit coast to coast," Boyle said. "The great thing about Colorado is we're intriguing to a lot of young men and we've got a campus and facilities that sell themselves if we can get kids on campus. We will still recruit nationally, but certainly California and the West Coast will be a prime target of ours."
The lone issue yet to be decided is how the Pac-10's schedule will change once Colorado and Utah join the league. Boyle said it appears as though teams will not be split into divisions and will still play 18 conference games, but member schools have yet to come to a consensus on how the schedule will be set up.
The main sticking point is that it's important for every school to be able to tell Southern California recruits they'll make an annual visit to Los Angeles to face UCLA and USC.
"Certainly getting to LA each year helps," Boyle said. "I know a decision hasn't been made."