With reports swirling that the Pac-10 conference is preparing to extend an invitation to the University of Colorado, local Buffs fans are left wondering whether what's best for the school's athletes is also best for their followers.
As a current member of the Big 12, CU's NCAA teams travel to states across the Midwest to compete for bragging rights. But a switch to the Pac-10 would force the Buffs' teams and their devoted fans to venture out to Washington, California and Oregon to get their game on.
A look at how long it takes to drive from Boulder to the Pac-10's campuses:
Arizona State University: 14 hours, 32 minutes
University of Arizona: 14 hours, 52 minutes
University of Southern California: 16 hours, 27 minutes
University of California, Los Angeles: 16 hours, 44 minutes
Washington State University: 18 hours, 7 minutes
University of California, Berkeley: 19 hours, 43 minutes
Stanford University: 20 hours, 26 minutes
University of Washington: 20 hours, 56 minutes
Oregon State University: 21 hours, 23 minutes
University of Oregon: 21 hours, 25 minutes
Source: Google Maps
CU senior Danielle Boyd and four of her friends make it their priority to support the football team as often as possible -- even if it means tagging along on the road.
"We enjoy the road trips and spending time cheering on our team," Boyd said.
But Boyd said she's worried that away games will be more difficult to attend if CU joins the Pac-10 because they'd be much further away.
"I think being in the Pac-10 would get more fans a chance to see our team, but, at the same time, it would cause me to have to travel a lot more," Boyd said.
Among current Big 12 destinations, Texas A&M in College Station -- a nearly 17-hour drive, according to Google Maps -- is the longest trek of the conference season. But games in Kansas, west Texas and Nebraska come with more manageable drive times, generally under 10 hours.
A change to the Pac-10 would mean driving as much as 211/2 hours to Eugene, Ore., to battle the Ducks. The shortest Pac-10 trip for the Buffs would be 141/2 hours to Arizona State University in Tempe, nearly double the drive to Lincoln, Neb.
Junior Andrew Hill said that while the distance may not be ideal for fans, the Pac-10 conference is a better all-around fit for CU, based on academic rankings and reputation.
"I think the Pac-10 teams are far more prestigious than any other teams in our conference, except for Texas," Hill said. "Our reputation could go up (if CU joins the Pac-10)."
CU alumnus Charles Cavanaugh attends a couple of football games every year and, like Hill, said the increased exposure CU would gain from becoming a part of the Pac-10 could improve the overall reputation of the university.
CU would have to make some major changes to compete with some of the Pac-10 powerhouses, Cavanaugh said, but just being in the same conference as those teams could greatly improve CU's recruitment both academically and athletically.
"Maybe the national exposure would draw more interest in attending Colorado," Cavanaugh said.
Cavanaugh also said the ideal locations and impressive teams might entice Buff fans to go the distance to support their teams.
"I think at first (fans) would spend the money, if the games were in nice-weather places, like Arizona and Southern California," Cavanaugh said.
While fans continue to duke it out over which conference is best for their teams, one philosophy remains consistent among Buffs zealots.
"A real fan will follow their team no matter what," Boyd said.