Colorado State has been more and more on the potential candidate radar of late, so we take time today to pore over their resume. Jon's guest this afternoon is Jeremy Mauss (@JeremyMauss), founder of the excellent Mountain West Connection.
Jon: First off, on a scale of 1-10, how badly does the fanbase want the Big 12 to extend an invite?
Jeremy: I'll go Spinal Tap and say 11. Any school outside a power league would savior an invite to get the prestige and revenue. The Colorado State fanbase is really cautiously optimistic about invite and know they are not a top choice of the Big 12 goes to 12 teams, but they feel the new on-campus stadium will help. Apparently, being near Denver is getting fans excited since if the Big 12 Network actually happens then the Rams become more of a viable choice.
Jon: How about the administration? Any sense of their enthusiasm beyond the obvious financial benefits?
Jeremy: They don't really talk about it but getting the new stadium is a clear statement of wanting to showcase the university. The administration is clearly more tempered and are not publicly courting the Big 12 for an invite. They know the benefits are huge by being affiliated with a better conference.
Jon: We'll get to the things which the suits will focus on -- money, academics, and success -- in a minute. What wacky benefits which the administrations don't care about at all would Colorado State bring to the Big 12?
Jeremy: The outdoors are great out here in Fort Collins and it is likely this city trumps cities like Lawrence, Lubbock, Ames and some of the other smaller towns in the Big 12. You could trick the league and host meetings near Colorado State but hold them at Austin's American Grill. Trip Advisor lists this restaurant as one of the 10 best in the city.
Jon: If the Rams joined, who do you think they'd quickly form rivalries with? What Big 12 cities would CSU fans most excited about potentially visiting?
Jeremy: It somewhat depends on who the second team is. If BYU joins CSU the it is the Cougars right away. If we just limit it to the current makeup it is not clear since the Rams have not played the Big 12 teams consistently.
In basketball there could be a rivalry right away between Iowa State with Larry Eustachy as the Rams head coach.
Football is a bit tougher to decide but maybe TCU since they played together in the Mountain West for a few years. Texas Tech is somewhat close and in remote areas, and a future series next decade.
Jon: Why do WE want to come visit Colorado State? What's great about Fort Collins? What's the fanbase REALLY like (warts and all)?
Jeremy: You have heard marijuana is legal in Colorado, so that is an excellent reason to visit lovely Fort Collins.
Seriously, Fort Collins is about two hours from Vail for some good skiing, and plenty of great outdoors stuff to do in the are if you are into that type of stuff.
Just like most fan bases a small percentage that think they are the best thing ever and are just one -- fill in the blank -- thing away from being this amazing program.
Most are just excited about the new stadium and some are cautiously optimistic about a Big 12 invite.
Jon: And now, the big one. Pretend we're the Big 12 Board of Directors. Why should we invite CSU as opposed to anyone else? SELL US.
Jeremy: First, screw West Virginia and finding them a travel partner. Go with Colorado State and add BYU for a pair of Western schools. That will still help WVU in traveling when they go play their weekend series on that runs from Thursday through Saturday for basketball, baseball or volleyball with the short flight between the two schools.
The school has good academics, which do matter to a degree in realignment mess, the new on-campus stadium which will hold a modest 40,000-plus and is just a step below in capacity of TCU and Kansas' stadiums. It has been awhile but the Rams were considered one of the best teams in the West back in the late years of the WAC and early Mountain West days with multiple conference football titles, so this is a team that can win. Add in the boost and prestige of the Big 12 and Colorado State could move up the ranks quickly and be very competitive within a few years.
Also, it all comes down to money so once a deal is worked out to convert the Longhorn Network to a Big 12 Network then the Rams become valuable and similarly to how Rutgers helped the Big Ten with the New York City market. This would be on a much smaller scale but Denver is a top-20 market at 18 and a Big 12 Network should be easily added to a lower tier and give the conference more money in a TV deal than adding smaller markets like Salt Lake City, Memphis, Cincinnati, New Orleans and the only competition is Orlando which sits just behind Denver at the 19th largest market.
You know Panjandrum is having a meltdown right now. Unfortunately, he's not available to pen our rebuttal, so you'll just have to deal with JT doing it later today. What do YOU think? Tomorrow, we'll head to sunny Orlando to discuss Central Florida.