ARLINGTON, Texas — College football fans hoping to get some concrete news regarding expansion went away disappointed Wednesday afternoon after Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark’s remarks at Big 12 football media days at AT&T Stadium.

“We are the only conference in America that is in three time zones. But right now, there is nothing on the board. Again, we will explore all options. Until that point, we love the current makeup and we are excited about it.” — Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark

In particular, BYU fans who may be hoping that the league will quickly add another school in the Mountain or Pacific time zones to give the Cougars a traveling partner are probably especially unhappy.

“Well first of all, we love BYU. We are excited about them coming into the conference. They are in a different time zone, obviously, which is great for us,” Yormark said after being asked by Jake Hatch of “KSL Sports Zone” and the Locked On Sports Network about the importance of adding another western team.

“We are the only conference in America that is in three time zones. But right now, there is nothing on the board. Again, we will explore all options. Until that point, we love the current makeup and we are excited about it.”

Obviously, rumors have swirled all spring and summer that the Big 12 was looking to poach a couple Pac-12 schools, most notably a few of the so-called “four-corner schools” that includes Utah, Colorado, Arizona and/or Arizona State.

San Diego State has also been mentioned, and some have speculated that the league might be interested in football-less Gonzaga as a basketball-only member. But Yormark quickly put the kibosh on expansion talk.

“Relative to expansion, I said coming out of our spring meetings (in West Virginia) that we have a plan. And we have a plan for expansion. And I am not really going to address it today,” Yormark said. “We do have a plan, and hopefully we can execute that plan sooner than later. 

“But as I have always said, I love the composition of this conference right now. The excitement the four new members have brought to this conference has been incredible.”

Houston, Cincinnati and UCF are also joining the league, giving it 14 members this season and 12 in 2024 when Oklahoma and Texas depart for the SEC.

“If we stay at 12, we are perfectly fine with that. If the opportunity presents itself, where there is something that creates value, and aligns well with our goals and objectives, starting with the board (of directors), then we are certainly going to pursue it.”

Yormark, who made his debut a year ago at this same media gathering, joked that “I feel like we have been talking about expansion for a year now.”

And nothing has changed, although rumors continue to persist, especially because the Pac-12 has not finalized a new media rights deal and some schools are reportedly growing impatient. 

Yormark famously said in his first-ever address to Big 12 constituents last year that the league was “open for business” and would be aggressive in expanding its reach.

Wednesday, he clarified that a little bit.

“When I said we were open for business last year, I think people took that as … this guy is new and he wants to disrupt, I guess, in some respects,” he said. “… Open for business (means) we are going to explore every and all possibilities to grow revenue, to diversify our conference and do things we have never done before. And we have done that.”

Many of Yormark’s initiatives have been well-documented. Growing the Big 12’s brand, and making the conference “cooler, hipper and younger” have been at the top of the list, along with beating other Power Five leagues to the new media rights deal that takes affect in 2024.

“We jumped ahead of the line,” Yormark said.

As for the move to attract younger fans, Yormark said the conference “will double down on that effort this year. … Our goal is to connect with Generation Z (people born between 1996 and 2010).”

The commissioner announced that the football championship game at this same venue in December will include a musical halftime performance, comparable to what is done at the Super Bowl. He said the act is still to be determined.

Speaking of AT&T Stadium, Yormark said the league has reached an agreement with “Jerry’s World” to play its football conference championship game here through 2030.

He said he likes having the men’s basketball conference championship game in Kansas City because the league doesn’t have to share the city with any other conferences like the Pac-12 does in Las Vegas with the WCC, Mountain West and other tourneys.

Regarding the elephant in the room, or stadium, Yormark expressed nothing but gratitude for Texas and Oklahoma.

“I am really excited about this season. I think it is going to be a year of celebration. We are going to celebrate our continuing eight, we are going to celebrate our four new schools, and we are going to celebrate Texas and Oklahoma and all the contributions they have made to this conference since Day 1, because they will always be a big part of this conference’s (history),” Yormark said.

That said, he reiterated that the league will be “just fine” without its two biggest names.

“Like I said last year: This conference is bigger than any two schools,” he said. “So we are in a great place. There has never been a better time right now to be involved with this conference. And I am excited about our future.”

While raiding another Power Five conference is seemingly on the back burner, Yormark was asked about the possibility of adding a non-Power Five school.

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“From my perspective, we have great collaboration with the board, and our athletic directors. Obviously, there are lots of different routes you can take with expansion. We have a plan,” Yormark said. “As it relates to any school that is a non-Power Five, if they create value, and they align with our goals and our objectives, it is a conversation we will consider having.”

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Yormark has said in the past that he would like to get to at least 14 schools in the near future. Wednesday, he clarified that stance:

“I did say 14 — you are absolutely right. I believe there is strength in numbers. I have also said we are not chasing a number, and that if and when the opportunity presents itself to stay at 14, we will pursue it,” he said. “I did say that, and I backpedaled a little bit. Because I realize it is not about chasing a number, it is more about creating value for membership. And we will see where that takes us.”

Yormark said the newcomers such as BYU will “elevate” the Big 12, and in turn the conference will elevate the newbies.

“If you were on social media on July 1, you saw the power of those four brands and how they engaged their fans, and how they thought about brand,” he said of the day the four officially became members. “So we are excited to be partnering with those four schools. We are now in eight states. We reach over 75 million people in our footprint now with the help of those four schools. They bring a lot of value to this conference, and we are very excited to have them.”

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark speaks at the opening of the football Big 12 media days in Arlington, Texas, Wednesday, July 12, 2023. | LM Otero, Associated Press
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