A year ago, the Big 12 companies were pushed over the edge by the splits of Texas and Oklahoma to the Securities and Exchange Commission. The remaining eight schools were looking for stability. The Pac-12 could have gone in and out of place with some tactical expansion moves.
The future was as terrifying as it was uncertain.
However, the league survived.
Nobody got caught. Pac-12 did not contact. The outrage at the Longhorns and Sooners seemed to motivate the programs that were left behind. With no other options, everyone advanced together, adding four promising schools (BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston) and stretching its frontiers from the Rocky Mountains to Disney World.
No, the Big 12 is not the Big Ten or the SEC. However, he’s not staring at extinction either.
Now it’s Pac-12 reeling from USC and UCLA losses to the Big Ten. And now, the Big 12, playing from a position of unexpected strength, could be the aggressor.
“We’re in a great place,” Commissioner Brett Urmark said on Wednesday. “The question is, ‘Where do we go next?’ “
For Yormark, this is a legitimate question. he do not know. He spoke Wednesday at Big 12 Media days in Arlington, Texas, although he didn’t officially take over his new position until August 4. 1. He came from an executive position at Jay Z’s agency Roc Nation Entertainment and had previous stints in NBA and NASCAR.
His novelty in college athletics was evident in some details that he clearly did not understand or avoided in his answers. It doesn’t matter, he can catch up with that.
The league needs a leader, a strategist, a visionary. Yormark might be just that.
This will be an experiment with fire and nothing is more important for the Big 12 than finding as much revenue as possible to bridge the gap with the SEC and the richer Big Ten.
And nothing adds more value than a potential expansion – which could lift TV, media and marketing rights.
“The Big 12 is open for business,” said Yormark.
Yormark said he’s received plenty of calls, but has repeatedly warned that any expansion should be “additive, not diluted.” This means that if there is an expansion, it will almost certainly focus on the existing Pac-12 schools.
The obvious candidates are Oregon, Washington, Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado (old major center on 8/12). It’s not only the big brands, markets, and fan bases that can add value to the Big 12’s upcoming media rights deals, but it’s also eliminating the 12 biggest direct competitors for TV network attention… Pac-12.
Right now, there are five major college rights deals on the way to appear in the next few years. The Big Ten are by far the most valuable. Then comes the Pac-12, Big 12, Notre Dame home games and finally the College Football Playoff, which will be there in some form.
Perhaps nothing generates more money for the Big 12 than taking the Pac-12 off the table as a viable entity…and thus limiting supply to increase demand.
It’s vile and off-putting – and a bit frustrating – but at this point it’s also the reality of college athletics.
As Jay-Z said: Euromark is a businessman. He’s going to do business, man.
Will the Big 12 do that? Can it? Could he attract those six schools, or even two of them, setting off a chain of dominoes, by selling stability and commonalities? Or can the Pac-12 regroup, fend off the poachers of the Great Plains, and stay together?
It’s the latest in a slow-burning skirmish between these two conferences that dates back to 2011 when PAC12 commissioner Larry Scott considered adding Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma and the state of Oklahoma.
Washington and Oregon are desperate to make it to the Big Ten, according to several sources in college athletics. However, right now – and that, like shifting plate tectonics, can change at any moment – the Big Ten isn’t expanding past 16 teams.
Would Arizona, Arizona State, Utah, and Colorado want to tie their convention membership to two schools that, if asked, would bail out as fast as they could and put Buck 12 back in limbo?
Or would these four schools prefer joining the 12 big schools you want and need while they operate as geographies and football?
This is the Big 12 sales pitch. And to top it off, would the Big 12 consider offering a deal to the six Pac-12 schools that they could get out of the league early on if the Big Ten were already calling? There may be some fees of course, but they can be controlled. Pac-12, which needs a long-term commitment, may not be able to match that.
Such a proposal might appeal to Washington and Oregon, who could continue to play big football but walk out if they get their dream date.
The 12 companies may seem desperate, but this is a risk assessment. The Big Ten may never come to Washington and Oregon, and they are unlikely to come to the other four schools.
In the short term – the time when the Big 12 companies need to get as much media revenue as possible – it will bring in “extra” programming while also eliminating a competitor for TV dollars.
Speaking in general, Yormark said, “We will spare no effort in paying for the conference.” “Exploration and electives are at the forefront of what we focus on…everything we do should create momentum for these [media rights] Negotiation.”
One year after they are hunted, the big 12 hunt; This time with a new, potentially aggressive, boss at the helm.