The start of the college football season hasn’t appeared to quell any discussions about future conference realignment.
The latest expansion chatter centers around comments from Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark, who is visiting future league member University of Cincinnati on Wednesday, according to The Athletic’s Justin Williams.
During that visit, Yormark shared what the Big 12 is looking for in any potential conference additions.
“Well, I don’t want to get into specifics. … But obviously going out west is where I would like to go, entering the fourth time zone,” Yormark said, per Williams. “A program that has national recognition. One that competes at the highest level in basketball and football, stands for the right things, is a good cultural fit.”
Big 12 commish Brett Yormark on potential future expansion, and what types of schools would be additive for the B12 moving forward: "Obviously going out west is where I would like to go, entering that fourth time zone. A program that has national recognition."— Justin Williams (@Williams_Justin) September 7, 2022
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Yormark added he likes the alignment and “like-mindedness” right now of the Big 12, which will expand next season with BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF joining the league. Texas and Oklahoma are currently scheduled to leave for the SEC in 2025.
“I don’t want to compromise that,” with future expansion, Yormark told Williams. “And that’s critically important that there is the right cultural fit when you think about coming in and being part of what we’re building here.”
During the Big 12 football media days in July, Yormark said the conference is “open for business” but “nothing is imminent” in regards to expansion.
That came after the Pac-12’s USC and UCLA announced in late June they will be joining the Big Ten Conference in 2024.
“We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference,” Yormark said at Big 12 media days, adding he was excited by the news of USC and UCLA’s departure from the Pac-12 “in many respects, because I saw there was opportunity.”
Last week, the Big 12 announced it will begin discussions with its media partners on a new media rights deal, even though the conference’s current deal runs through 2025.
This comes as the Pac-12 has explored its options on a new media rights deal. The Pac-12’s current media rights contract expires in 2024.
“This is an incredibly smart move of the Big 12 to go a year early,” Action Network’s Brett McMurphy quoted an industry source as saying last week. “Especially with the uncertainty of conference realignment — specifically how more Big Ten expansion would impact the Pac-12.”
On Wednesday, he gave an update on this development.
“The process has started. I met with ESPN last week, had great meetings with them,” Yormark said, per Williams. “I think we’re very aligned and like-minded in where we want to go in the future. I’ll be meeting with Fox in the next week to gauge their interest.
“Obviously these are conversations to explore if it’s in everyone’s best interest to go early, to gain clarity. My gut tells me that both Fox and ESPN would like to do that, but I’ll know for sure once I meet with Fox in the next week.”
B12's Brett Yormark on early TV window w/ ESPN & Fox: "That process has started. I met with ESPN last week...I'll be meeting with Fox in the next week...My gut tells me that both Fox & ESPN would like to (negotiate early) but I'll know for sure...in the next week."— Justin Williams (@Williams_Justin) September 7, 2022
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