During the start of Big 12 Media Days Wednesday morning, the incoming commissioner said there’s a lot of interest in certain universities joining the conference.
Brett Yormark, who was introduced as the Big 12’s fifth commissionerwas asked if he has been engaged with any of the Pac-12 schools, and he didn’t dismiss the idea of adding new universities to the conference.
“We are open for business,” Yormark said. “Optionality is good and we are vetting through all of them. I think it is fair to say that I have received a lot of phone calls.
“People understand the direction of the Big 12 and we are exploring those levels of interest. Nothing is imminent, but we are working hard to position the Big 12 in the best possible way.
“We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference.”
A year ago, Texas and Oklahoma announced each school was leaving the Big 12 for the SEC as late as 2025. Those moves set a wave of dominoes that changed college football. Not long after that, BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston decided to join the Big 12 in 2023.
And then late last month, USC and UCLA announced they were leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten beginning in 2024. Because of the Trojans and Bruins leaving, rumors have started that the Big 12 is in serious talks with as many as six Pac -12 universities — Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Oregon, Utah and Washington.
“There’s not a definitive plan right now,” Yormark said. “We are exploring all options. I can assure you that given the time that we spent with our presidents, our chancellors, and our athletic directors, we are a very unified group, and this was one of the things that drew me to the job .
“As we vet out the possibilities, I feel like our conference is in the best position that it has been in before.”
With all the movement, the future of the Pac-12 is in serious doubt. Even if the conference stays at status quo with 10 teams, not having a major television market like Los Angeles will hurt the Pac-12 when it comes to its next television contract. Earlier this month, the Pac-12 board of directors said the current 10 schools would remain in place to explore expansion options and begin negotiations for its following media rights.
It is worth noting that Oregon is one of the few Pac-12 schools that did not put out a statement after USC and UCLA announced they were leaving the conference. Would Oregon, along with Washington, be content being left behind in the Pac-12 while the SEC, Big Ten, ACC, and Big 12 possibly form four super conferences?
If the six aforementioned schools were to move to the Big 12, they would join media markets such as Orlando, Dallas, and Houston, among some of the biggest in the country. Oregon likely would be interested in joining the Big Ten, but reports have suggested that conference is waiting to see if they can add Notre Dame before adding any other schools.
In 2025, the College Football Playoff will likely expand from four once the 12-year contract expires. If college football goes to super conferences, it will be hard for conferences like the Pac-12 to be invited to the playoffs even with an 11 or 12-win season. Since forming in 2014, only two Pac-12 teams (Oregon in 2014 and Washington in 2016) have made the College Football Playoff.
Yormark says he would like to see the playoff go from more than four teams
“What the structure of that looks like is certainly something that we all need to discuss,” he said. “I’m looking forward to having meaningful conversations with the other Power 5 commissioners. … But generally speaking, I’d like to see expansion.”
Contact Register-Guard sportswriter Antwan Staley at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @thewanstyles.