Brett Yormark Doesn’t Close Door on OU, Texas Early Big 12 Exit
There’s been much made of the news this past week that Oklahoma and Texas reportedly won’t be leaving the Big 12 Conference earlier than the planned 2025 departure, despite their well-known desires to leave for the SEC by 2024.
However, one of the main players in the entire negotiation, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, doesn’t appear to think a deal is dead just yet.
Yormark was in Manhattan, Kansas on Saturday to watch the Top-10 match up between K-State and Texas. And before his halftime departure, he told Kirk Bohls from the Austin American-Statesman about the negotiations to try and get Oklahoma, Texas out earlier than 2025, “We’ll see how it goes. Negotiations take twists and turns.”
This comes just a couple days after ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported that the Longhorns and Sooners could not come to an agreement with the Big 12 “amid complex negotiations” between the two schools, the Big 12, and its television networks (ESPN and FOX). His reporting was similar to Dennis Dodd’s report on Thursday that the Big 12 had rejected a bid from the two schools that would allow them to leave the conference prior to the 2024 season.
The main issue that held the schools from leaving before the reported date was the significant loss of inventory for the Big 12’s television partners, namely FOX.
“Fox and ESPN hold the linear broadcast rights to the Big 12 through 2024-25,” Dodd writes. “ESPN owns 63% of the value from the new $2.3 billion deal that begins in 2025. As such, it gets top picks with the four best football games each season, six of the top eight, eight of the top 12 and 12 of the top 20, according to SportsBusiness Journal. Fox, which owns the remaining 37% of the deal, receives 26 games per season. It is not clear whether Fox would get access to some of those ESPN picks if a deal was struck.“
This report also backs the idea that Oklahoma and Texas’ handling of the 2023 Big 12 schedule release was significant, meaning that they likely weren’t happy with how things were handled in this situation, a situation that they themselves brought to pass.
But, as Yormark noted on Saturday, any negotiation is never necessarily over, and when one of the biggest players involved is willing to admit as much publicly, maybe there’s more to come on this story.