LAS VEGAS — Of course brash and bold Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark was going to double down on his take that the 16-team Big 12 is one of the top conferences in America in his annual address at football media days on Tuesday.

The event is in Las Vegas, after all.

“We have solidified ourselves as one of the top three conferences in America,” Yormark said at Allegiant Stadium. “We are more relevant now than ever before. … There has never been a better time than right now to be a part of the Big 12.”

Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State officially join the league next month, although the “four-corners schools” are all in Las Vegas the next two days, along with 12 schools that participated last year in Arlington, Texas, including BYU.

Continuing to double down, and expressing thoughts that will surely get some play at the SEC and Big Ten media confabs later this month, Yormark said he is as “bullish” on the Big 12′s future as he ever has been.

With the addition of the four-corners schools and despite the losses of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC, “We will be the deepest football conference in America, and every week will matter,” Yormark said.

Although there was no major, groundbreaking announcement, Yormark told the more than 500 media members in attendance at the home of the Las Vegas Raiders that the Big 12 is on an upward trajectory and will continue to look for innovative and revolutionary ways to build its brand.

Big 12 naming rights

One of those ways is by selling its naming rights to the league to a title sponsor, which ESPN reported on June 13 has been explored by Yormark and the conference.

“The commercial sponsor would potentially take the name ‘Big’ out of the Big 12 and replace it with the sponsor’s name. It could end up as one of the largest commercial deals in collegiate athletics history, not including media rights,” ESPN’s Pete Thamel reported.

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In a post-address gathering with reporters that was not televised, Yormark said nothing is imminent in regard to a naming rights deal, but he acknowledged that he’s interested in finding a deal.

“Do I believe in naming rights? I do. I was at NASCAR when we went from Winston Cup to Nextel. I was with the (Brooklyn) Nets when Continental Airlines Arena became IZOD Center,” he said. “Naming rights aren’t foreign to me. I see the value in them if they are the right naming rights, if they are the right partner. We are going to explore it, and we will see where we land.”

Asked if “Big 12″ will remain in the name, Yormark said they “haven’t gotten that far yet” but that the conference is “celebrating” the number 12 where it can.

“But the first order is, can we find the right strategic and financial partner that is going to support this conference in all the right ways?” he said. “But nothing is imminent right now.”

In another possibility that could rattle college football purists, Yormark said a possible revenue stream the league is considering is to allow referees to wear commercial patches, which is something the NBA is already doing.

“I haven’t thought through the student-athlete patch dynamic yet,” he said. “I think just given everything that is going on, it is something that is on the table for the foreseeable future. But I do believe in the officials patch. I think it is the right thing to do right now.”

More highlights from Brett Yormark’s remarks

• On spreading out the rivalry football games, rather than have them played on the same day in late November. For instance, BYU vs. Utah is on Nov. 9, while Baylor vs. Houston is on Nov. 23 and Arizona vs. Arizona State is on Nov. 30:

“Well, I think rivalries are critically important. … I mean Utah-BYU, Arizona-Arizona State, Kansas-Kansas State, Baylor-TCU are, I mean, great rivalries.”

Yormark said vice president of football Scott Draper and his scheduling committee came up with the plan as a way to draw interest throughout November.

“They were focused on the rivalries that obviously mean something, not only to the history of our conference, but to our fans. And I think we landed in a great place,” Yormark said.

• On if the Big 12 can catch the SEC and Big Ten in terms of television revenue, overall financial dominance and nationwide perception as a power conference:

“I say this often: We are one of the three best conferences in America, and we are getting better. Think about where we were just 24 months ago, and think about where we are today. I will not stop until we are the No. 1 conference in America. That’s my ambition, and I shouldn’t have anything but that. That’s the ambition of our conference, that’s the ambition of our ADs and presidents.

“Why would we be doing what we are doing if we didn’t aspire to be No. 1? We continue to get better and I like where we are going.”

• On the SEC and Big Ten currently affiliated with the Las Vegas Bowl and whether the Big 12 can get one of those spots, given that it now has Utah, BYU and the other schools in the West:

“I am confident at the right time we will have a formal affiliation with the Las Vegas Bowl. This market is critically important to us. … I am very comfortable and confident in what that outcome will bring in our conference. We need to be here in Vegas for all the right reasons.”

• On the Big 12 having a Pro Day Combine in Texas in March and whether it will continue:


“We had a wonderful experience at the Big 12 Pro Day in (our) partnership with the NFL. It was something we thought about for quite some time, and it finally came to fruition. It was a great experience for the student-athletes, and we will be doing it again this year as well with the NFL.”

BYU defensive lineman Atunaisa Mahe sprints during Big 12 NCAA college NFL football pro day Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Frisco, Texas. (AP Photo/LM Otero)
BYU defensive lineman Atunaisa Mahe sprints during Big 12's NFL football pro day Saturday, March 30, 2024, in Frisco, Texas. On Tuesday, July 9, 2024, Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark announced a Big 12 pro day will return in 2025. | LM Otero, Associated Press

• On if more expansion could be in the Big 12′s plans, or if 16 is a good number to stop at:

“I often get asked about expansion and what’s next. I am really focused on the current composition of our conference. We’ve expanded a lot. My wife told me the other day, when you took the job, you had 10 schools. You have 16 now. That’s in a very short period of time, in less than 24 months.

“So I haven’t really thought about what’s the right number. I don’t know if it’s really about a number. I think it is about the right fit. It’s about the value a potential school might or might not bring to the conference. But right now we’re focused on 16. We’re focused on getting this right, and I am really excited about our future as a 16-team league.”

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