Big 12 News

Utah AD Mark Harlan on Joining Big 12: ‘We’re Blessed to Have the Opportunity’

Jul 21, 2023; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Utah Utes athletic director Mark Harlan during Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World Las Vegas. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

In just five short months the Big 12 will officially wave goodbye to two original members and say hello to four new members as the conference transitions into a new phase of life.

Gone are Oklahoma and Texas, as the longtime flagship programs of the league will try their luck as members of the SEC, a move that will group them among the richest athletic programs in the country, in terms of television dollars.

Meanwhile, the ever-evolving Big 12 will step into a position that Bob Bowlsby couldn’t have dreamed of when he got the news about the Sooners and Longhorns, as it will add Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah to its full-time membership in July.

 

It’s still peculiar for many when those additions will mean the loss of a Power Five conference, with the Pac-12 essentially falling off the West Coast and into the Pacific Ocean. That’s not just for fans either, as people close to the situation are still taken aback when they think about what the changes coming this summer mean in the grander scheme.

“I think it would be disingenuous to say it’s not still surreal,” Utah Athletic Director Mark Harlan said during a recent appearance on Canzano & Wilner.

While there was certainly some trepidation and anxiety surrounding the programs that had to bail from the Pac-12, Harlan says things have turned towards excitement about a bright future in the Big 12.

“Going forward, the excitement that we have… We’re blessed to have the opportunity to go into the Big 12 and a lot that surreal, and maybe melancholy, has moved away and we’re much more excited about what’s coming ahead.

 

“It’s a great opportunity for Utah to get in there and get after it in a lot of different ways. So, we’re really excited about it.”

With Utah and the other former Pac-12 schools coming aboard, the Big 12 will solidify itself as one of the three most powerful conferences in the nation, as it continues to try and keep pace with the Big Ten and SEC in the TV network pecking order.

It’s an exciting time for the Big 12 and its fans, and that sentiment is also shared by the newcomers in the conference as well.

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