Two years ago, the Big 12 Conference was in a bad spot. The news of Texas and Oklahoma leaving broke and the conference that we all love was essentially left for dead.
The timing of the Texas and Oklahoma news was funny, especially considering about a week earlier we were all at Big 12 Media Days. During the opening statement former conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby made a joke about realignment and mentioned how nice it was not to be talking about it. But just like Bob, nobody there knew that a bombshell was about to drop on the conference.
Things went from bad to worse shortly after Texas and Oklahoma announced their move to the SEC because the national media had a field day with the Big 12. No matter where you looked or what social media platform you were on, there was a national writer ready to grab a shovel and dig the Big 12’s grave (looking at you Stewart Mandel). And speaking of Stewart, I saved some receipts.
During this time, I had no idea what was going to happen next. As someone who covers the Big 12, I was thinking about what was going to happen with this website and if I needed to be looking for another place to take my talents.
Luckily for myself, this website, and the conference, Bob Bowlsby decided not to hide under his desk and let the Big 12 be picked apart by vultures. Instead, he went out and added four new schools in BYU, Houston, Cincinnati, and UCF.
Something that is not talked about enough is the job Bob Bowlsby did, especially there at the end of his tenure. He set up Brett Yormark for success by adding the four new schools. That move helped stabilize the conference, and instead of handing Brett the keys to an old beat-up car, he handed him a brand-new Corvette.
Before Yormark took over in August of last year, there was plenty of bickering going on between the Big 12 and the Pac-12. At the time, both were trying to get media deals done and the famous line at last year’s Big 12 media days was about the Big 12 being “Open for business.” It didn’t take long for Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff to respond when the Pac-12 had their media days just a couple of weeks later.
Just a few short months after Kliavkoff’s comment, the Big 12 got a media deal done. Their deal runs through the 2030-2031 season and each school will receive around $31.6 million per year. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 on the other hand told everyone that a deal was coming soon. Well, that was over a year ago and guess what? We are all still waiting for that deal.
What makes matters worse is the PR job that the Pac-12 has done. They continuously put their foot in their mouth every time they open it.
Plus, it also doesn’t help when you have the three stooges such as Jon Wilner, John Canzano, and Tony Altimore becoming mouthpieces for the conference. I mean, just look at the long list of stupidity these three guys have said over the last few months. There were so many bad takes I had saved that I couldn’t even list them all here.
As bad as Jon Wilner and John Canzano are, none are worse than Tony Altimore. If you are reading this, I am sure he has blocked you by now on Twitter, but this may be the funniest thing I have seen in a while.
I don’t know Tony personally, but I imagine Thursday was a tough day for him. I am sure he is crying in a corner somewhere laying in the fetal position.
There have been a lot of good and bad days in the Big 12 over the years. Thursday was the best day for the conference since the announcement of the four new schools. Why? Because Colorado is coming back home, where they belong. Much like other schools in the next few days, Colorado decided to jump off the inflatable raft and hop on the yacht.
In my years of covering the Big 12, I know that days like Thursday don’t come around often. So, I decided to celebrate a little bit and have a pour of one of my favorite bourbons.
As you can see in the picture, there isn’t much left in the bottle, but I have this funny feeling that I will be reaching for another hefty pour sooner rather than later. What Commissioner Brett Yormark has done over the last year has been nothing short of spectacular.
I say that I will be having another pour soon because I don’t think the Big 12 is done picking apart the Pac-12. There will be more schools joining, but the question is which school, or schools, will it be? Will it be Oregon? Washington? Maybe one, or both of the Arizona schools?
No matter what happens, I will be ready for it. My liquor cabinet is full of great bourbon options and Thursday night was a night to soak it all in (literally).
As I take the final sip out of this glass, I think about just what this conference has been able to overcome. From being left for dead and buried to thriving and establishing themselves as one of the premier conferences in college football. Two years ago, now seems like a lifetime ago and I don’t know whether it’s the bourbon talking or just because of how good everything is right now. Either way, I raise a glass to all of our readers and Big 12 fans across the country. This one is for you.