For now, it's the Pac-11 Conference.
By the end of today or the weekend, who knows?
Colorado of the Big 12 officially joined the Pac-10 on Thursday and will begin play in the league in the fall of 2012. Pac-10 commissioner Larry Scott said the courtship was brief: The two sides did not formally meet until Tuesday, when an invitation was extended.
Everyone in Boulder, Colo., and throughout the Pac-10 seemed giddy about the news. Colorado president Bruce D. Benson, noting he received an excited call from the governor, said, "We know it's time for a change, and this is the exact perfect place for us to go."
Scott, moving quickly to give the Pac-10 a bigger footprint on the college sports landscape in his first year, called the move "historic." The Golden Buffaloes will be the league's first new school since Arizona and Arizona State expanded the old Pac-8 in 1978-79.
Stanford athletic director Bob Bowlsby, in a statement, said Colorado is "an ideal fit for our conference."
Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour added, "From an academic and athletic and marketing and television market and somewhat from a geography standpoint, it all makes really good sense."
The coach of a Cal nonrevenue sport, speaking anonymously, said he hasn't heard any coaches express concerns. "I think the beauty of it is the revenue it's going to provide," the coach said. "I think it will be great, the vision of the Pac-10 commissioner really making us the name conference."
Scott has said he wants to settle conference membership by the end of the year before beginning negotiations for a new long-term TV deal. The conference also could form its own TV network, as the Big Ten has done.
Scott acknowledged he doesn't even know by what name the league eventually might call itself. If the Pac-10 swells to 16 teams — with six defectors from the Big 12 — an entirely new brand name may follow.
Asked what the next step might be, Scott said, "We're going to see what might develop nationally before we decide what to do next."
Triggers for further changes may happen as early as today with a Big 12 Conference deadline looming for member schools to pledge their allegiance to the now 11-school conference:
Nebraska Gov. Dave Heineman essentially endorsed the move, telling the Journal Star it would be "an exciting opportunity for Nebraska in terms of academic, research and athletics."
None of the other possible scenarios is a sure thing, but Scott said the conference would be content if only Colorado came on board.
"I'd say that is a possibility," he confirmed. "Anything's possible."
Including potentially the establishment of a conference football championship game, something the Pac-10 does not have. An unnamed Big 12 coach has suggested the expanded league might maintain that policy but lobby for two automatic bids to the BCS football playoffs, one each going to the champion of two divisions.
Scott said those discussions would come later.
"Absolutely," Cal coach Jeff Tedford said when asked if he favored a conference championship game. "How else would you decide a conference champion? That's the model the other conferences use. And it's a big money-maker, there's no question about that. I would just assume if we went to 16 teams, that's what we would do."
Scott stressed that the use of two divisions and "creative scheduling" could minimize additional travel or missed class time in a conference with widespread geographic borders.
Barbour said she has confidence the conference will employ "the right value system and the right priorities in putting together the massive number of details that will be required to be prepared for an expanded conference in 2012."
Colorado will warm up for its entry into the Pac-10 by facing Cal in nonconference football games the next two seasons. The Buffaloes visit Berkeley on Sept. 11 this season, then Cal plays at Boulder on Sept. 10, 2011.
Staff writer Jonathan Okanes contributed to this story.
colorado at a glance
Nickname: Golden Buffaloes
Location: Boulder, Colo.
Enrollment: 30,128 undergraduate students
Intercollegiate sports teams: Football, men's and women's basketball, cross country, golf and track and field, women's soccer, tennis and volleyball, coed skiing.
Most recent national championship: Men's cross country (2006)
Famous nonathlete alumni: Judy Collins, musician; Glenn Miller, musician; Robert Redford (did not graduate), actor; Scott Carpenter, astronaut; Stephen Bechtel Jr., businessman; Rick Reilly, writer.
Famous athlete alumni: Chauncey Billups, basketball; Hale Irwin, golf; Kordell Stewart, football; Bill Toomey, track and field.
Association of American Universities: Colorado is among 34 U.S. public university members of the century-old organization of elite research institutions. Current Pac-10 schools with membership are Cal, Stanford, Arizona, Oregon, UCLA, USC and Washington.
-- jeff faraudo