ARLINGTON, Texas — Shock and awe.
BYU quarterback Kedon Slovis had the same look on his face as I did while walking around AT&T Stadium. The home of the Dallas Cowboys and Big 12 media days is a construction wonder and overall jaw dropper.
“I’ve never played in an NFL stadium like this before,” Slovis said while giving his eyes a tour of the place. “This is amazing.”
Slovis and the Pittsburgh Panthers beat Miami 42-16 last November at Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida, which the Hurricanes share with the NFL’s Miami Dolphins, but AT&T Stadium, by typical Texas standards, is a prime cut above.
For Slovis to play here, where Taylor Swift shattered the stadium attendance record over three nights in early April, he will need to lead his Cougars to the Big 12 championship game in December.
The vastness of the facility is consuming, but not lost in the bigness is the attention to smallness. Even the tiniest details loom large for commissioner Brett Yormark.
Big 12 cheerleaders greeted media members at the front door. Once inside the venue, a bevy of photo ops with the league helmets, uniforms, mascots (yes, Cosmo was dancing with his new friends), and the CFP championship and Big 12 championship trophies triggered a flurry of social media posts.
But the most glaring attraction is the fact that the Dallas Cowboys play here and Yormark is savvy enough to include it in his sales pitch.
According to Forbes, the Cowboys, once hailed as “America’s Team,” are worth $7.6 billion — the most valued sporting brand in the world. Even with Texas leaving for the SEC next year, the Big 12 is keeping its wagon hitched to the Cowboys star.
Standing tall on a stage suited for a rock band and placed strategically on the star at midfield, the 5-foot-7 Yormark announced an extension of the Big 12 championship game with AT&T Stadium through 2030.
“I want to thank the (Jerry) Jones family and the Cowboys for their commitment to the Big 12,” Yormark said. “This is a world-class venue. Probably the nicest venue in America. This place is very aspirational.”
Selling the Big 12 with the Cowboys didn’t stop there.
The conference put radio row in the north end zone and a 30-yard buffet in the south — both on top of the Cowboys logos. Print media were placed on field with the Cowboys famed Ring of Honor hovering above. Even the water cups were stamped, not with the Big 12 logo, but with the Cowboys.
BYU has a brief history in AT&T Stadium. It was here in 2009 in the south end zone where Max Hall threw a touchdown pass to McKay Jacobsen to upset No. 3 Oklahoma 14-13. In the north end zone, in 2011, Riley Nelson converted a two-point conversion at the goal line against TCU and gave the referee a high-five on national television.
Outside of media days this week, how soon BYU updates its personal profile at AT&T Stadium is up to them. Picked 11th by the media, the Cougars can provide their own “shock and awe” by returning in December to play for the title.
Dave McCann is a contributor to the Deseret News and is the studio host for “BYU Sports Nation Game Day,” “The Post Game Show,” “After Further Review,” and play-by-play announcer for BYUtv. He is also co-host of “Y’s Guys” at ysguys.com.