New Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark Needs to Go All In
Over the past decade, conference realignment has been a hot topic of discussion around college athletics. The Big 12 has always been a part of the shifting landscape. Nebraska, Missouri, Texas A&M and Colorado all departed for the Big 10, SEC and Pac-12, respectively. To try and keep the conference together, the Big 12 added West Virginia and TCU were added to the fold.
Former Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby always seemed to be fine with the status quo. He didn’t seem to want to rock the boat and wanted to keep things as simple as they could be for the conference. It never seemed like the Big 12 was considering adding new teams to the mix.
It wasn’t until Oklahoma and Texas decided to shock the world by announcing they would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC that Bowlsby and the rest of the conference realized they needed to expand. The additions of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF were not a forward thinking move, but a reactive move to try and keep the conference from folding.
It worked for the time being. The Big 12 will have 12 teams in the conference once again. However, it looks more and more likely that they will need to add more teams if they want to remain a power conference in the NCAA.
With UCLA and USC heading to the Big Ten in 2024, new Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark needs to assert himself and his leadership immediately. The Yormark and the Big 12 need to be contacting any and all schools they think could be potential additions to the conference. At this point 16 teams is the bare minimum that should be required for a power conference and it’s looking more likely by the day that each power conference will need 20 schools.
Even though he doesn’t officially start until August, it is going to be Yorkmark’s duty to continue to expand the conference and not just keep the Big 12 not just afloat but make them a power player for years to come. Here are three scenarios that could help the Big 12 stay alive and thrive.
Bring Nebraska and Colorado Back to the Big 12
Bringing Nebraska and Colorado back to the Big 12 wouldn’t be the only move that Yormark would need to make, but it would be a good start. The nostalgia is real with these two schools and the other schools in the conference should welcome them back with open arms.
In addition to Colorado and Nebraska, Yormark would need to bringing in a couple of other schools to at least bring the conference to 16 teams. In this scenario, adding Arizona and Arizona State would make a lot of sense. That would get the conference to 16 teams and would get a couple of other Pac-12 schools to jump from that sinking ship.
Despite the excitement of bringing the Huskers back to the Big 12, it isn’t very likely that Nebraska would leave the security of the Big Ten. Sometimes you have to shoot your shot, and the worst thing they could say is no.
Take Over The Majority of the Pac-12
This would be the move that cemented Yormark as a legend. In this scenario, the Big 12 would bring on Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, Utah, Oregon, Oregon State, Washington, and Washington State.
As a result of adding these schools, in addition to the current slate of teams projected to be in the Big 12 in 2024 and beyond, the conference would be set with 20 teams. Yormark could have a West and East division.
Essentially, adding BYU and TCU to the former Pac-12 teams would give them a Western Division. The Eastern Division would be made up of Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma State, Iowa State, Texas Tech, Baylor, Houston, Cincinnati, West Virginia and UCF.
The Big 12 would be a dominant force and be able to maintain their status as a power conference.
Do a Full Merge With the Pac-12
This would be the final option to prevent teams from both conferences at being plucked away from the Big 10, SEC or ACC. Yormark is brand new to the scene but Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff has only been on the job for one year. In order to save themselves and their conferences, both would need to set ego aside and come together.
If a truce was made, the 12 Big 12 teams and 10 remaining Pac-12 teams would combine to make a 22 team power conference. They would call themselves the Power 22.
Yormark and Kliavkoff would be co-commissioners and the conference would split into East and West divisions. BYU would be the lone team from the Big 12 to jump into the Western Division that would be filled with the former Pac-12 schools. The remaining Big 12 schools would make up the Eastern Division.
This would ensure all schools from both conferences would maintain their status as part of an NCAA power conference.
If the Yormark thinks the Big 12 is safe with 12 schools going forward, then maybe they hired the wrong guy for the job. If they don’t expand the conference, and soon, original Big 12 teams like Kansas, Kansas State, Iowa State and Oklahoma State could be plucked from their hand.
The time to act is now. Yormark needs to make his mark early and set up the conference for success in the short-term and long-term. Yormark’s legacy, for himself and the conference, could be delivered in his first few months as commissioner of the Big 12. He just needs to be bold and make moves immediately.