This is a crucial time in the history of Big 12 football. Prestige, glamour and lots of money could be heavily impacted if league commissioner Brett Yormark does not successfully navigate this daunting transition period. Though, he did not wear any of that pressure or stress on his face when discussing the topic of conference expansion at the spring meetings Friday.
Both UConn and Gonzaga have been rumored as possible new additions to the Big 12. Their appeal, however, lies completely in basketball, which will always be enveloped by the behemoth that is college football. Yormark did not specifically address either program but does see plenty of value in pursuing another hoops power.
“We do see the upside in basketball moving forward for all the right reasons,” he said, via ESPN's Heather Dinich. “We think it's undervalued and there's a chance for us to double down as the No. 1 basketball conference in America, but football is the driver and we all know that.”
Big 12 basketball offers no reprieve as it is, but adding Gonzaga and UConn to the equation would turn the conference into an absolute bloodbath. With Texas and Oklahoma leaving in 2024, though, the league might not be in a position to pass up prominent brand names.
Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU are jumping over ahead of the 2023 Big 12 football season, but Yormark has not been shy about continued expansion efforts. He made some enemies in the Pac-12 when he infamously said “we're open for business' at their annual conference meeting. Now, he is apparently in serious talks with Colorado.
The commish is quickly looking to make an imprint after being hired last summer, but he has a lot to consider before making such big decisions. That includes separating basketball power houses from football in order to maintain high competitive standards.
“As we think about the future and ways to create value, there is always that option to decouple basketball from football to see if there's further value we can create for the conference,” Yormark said.
Regardless of any further renovations, the Big 12 will never be the same. What exactly that means could rest on these next critical moves.