With the announcement that the University of Colorado was moving its athletic teams from the Big 12 to the Pac-10 came cheers and kudos from CU fans, CU academic staff, CU alumni, and of course, the sycophantic local media.
And let's be fair... it IS a great decision. And it was a great, proactive move by CU's Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, who got ahead of the tectonic shifts in conference switching and ended up in a great situation - in the Pac-10, WITHOUT Texas and its sure-to-be-masturbatory ESPN TV contract, and in a Pac 10 division with BOTH Southern California teams. Considering the number of CU alumni in California, the number of current CU parents who are in California, the imminent new-media contract of the Pac-10, and the FAR more desirable travel destinations offered by the Pac-10 (Palo Alto vs. Ames? no contest), this clearly was a great move.
But CU, after some negotiation, had to play one more season in the Big 12, in both football and basketball. Clearly, Dan Hawkins's final football season was never going to be a success given the abject failure of a head coach the 2010 Buffs were saddled with for the first 9 games, but there was hope for the basketball team. A new coach, some returning experience, and the fortuitous return of Big 12 superstar Alec Burks all signalled good things for the Buffs. And when the Buffs won the first two conference games, both against ranked opponents, and surged to the top of the Big 12 standing, the outlook was rosy.
Then reality set in. Since its 3-0 start, CU has lost 4 of 5 games, several close, and several on the road. The games at Nebraska and Oklahoma were games the Buffs had NO business losing, yet somehow they blew leads and lost. But as CU was losing these road games, I noticed something.
CU has removed ANY reference to the Big 12 Conference from the Coors Events Center - including the Big 12 logo from the basketball court.
This is AMAZINGLY stupid and short-sighted, and represents a double middle finger to the Big 12 Conference. Every single other team in the Big 12 - yes, even Nebraska, also bolting the conference at the end of the year - has the Big 12 logo on its floor. Who made this decision at CU? And why? Don't they realize this will antagonize a conference office that already was exposed as petty and stupid when its commissioner claimed to be unable to attend a division-clinching football game in Lincoln because of fear of the Husker fans?
A primer on how basketball officials are assigned:
Each conference employs a coordinator of officials - in the Big 12's case, this is Curtis Shaw (new to the position this year). Shaw assigns game officials based on whatever criteria he likes. He can claim to review them, or to have a committee to review the officials' performance, but ultimately, whatever Shaw says goes. And the officials know that getting these plum officiating assignments hinges on whether they are able to effectively play the political game and kiss the ass of the conference assigners. In other words... if you are an official and you want to work Big 12 conference games in the 2011-2012 season and beyond, start kissing Curtis Shaw's ass NOW.
So for the rest of the season, CU should EXPECT to get the short end of the officiating stick, as officials try to kowtow to Curtis Shaw and his arrogance in his future assigning duties. Basketball, more so than ANY other sport, has a lot of calls that "could go either way" - and which way do you think they will go in a Colorado game?
Why? Because the Big 12 conference office - which staffs small, petty men like Curtis Shaw in powerful positions - has to have noticed what I noticed. That the CU Athletic Department gave the conference a double middle finger on its way out by actively removing the conference logo from the Coors Event Center floor.