ARLINGTON, Texas — Brett Yormark hasn’t even started as the new commissioner for the Big 12 Conference and the honeymoon period is already over.
Just a few short days after the league announced the former co-CEO of Roc Nation Unified as the successor to outgoing commissioner Bob Bowlsby, the college landscape was already shifting around him with the reports of USC and UCLA moving to the Big Ten.
Being thrust into another round of shifting conferences led to a mixed reaction for Yormark.
“I was excited about it in many respects because I saw there was opportunity,” Yormark said Wednesday in his first official press conference to lead off Big 12 Conference Media Days at AT&T Stadium.
Yormark will inherent the job running a college league that will look completely different 12 months into his tenure.
The conference will include new members BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF starting in the 2023 school year, while there is still questions whether traditional football blue bloods Oklahoma and Texas will leave early for the SEC.
And it is possible by then, there is more talk of expansion.
“One thing is for sure. There is no doubt the Big 12 is open for business. We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference,” Yormark said.
In terms of the contract OU and Texas have with the league and whether Yormark expects them to adhere to those terms, he was looking bigger picture.
“In any situation like this, I always look for a win-win scenario. That being said, it’s important that whatever happens is in the best interest of this conference,” Yormark said. “But I look forward at the right time to have those conversations.”
Oklahoma State football coach Mike Gundy kept it pretty simple in terms of a possible early departure by the Sooners and Longhorns.
“If they leave early and they dump $80 million our way, I think that’s awesome,” Gundy said. “I can give you an opinion on certain things, but some things are out of my league and I almost hate to talk about it because I don’t know.”
Yormark’s extensive background that ranges from NASCAR to the NBA and beyond could help in other key aspect of the shifting landscape.
The biggest reason for many of the new allegiances between athletic departments and conferences is the almighty dollar. and most of that money for conferences comes by way of media rights.
“There aren’t any specifics that I can speak to now as far as how we’re going to position ourselves differently because there’s a long time between now and when we’ll commence negotiation, but I’m looking forward to that moment,” Yormark said. “… Everything we do from this point forward will lead towards that negotiation period, how we build our brand, how we build our business, conference realignment. All that will probably play a role in whatever dialogue we have.”
Gundy understands the correlation between the media rights and the conference realignment.
When asked about the moves happening around Oklahoma State – which includes the last few years of the Bedlam football matchup leading to Oklahoma moving to the SEC – Gundy immediately pointed the money.
“This is a power struggle for long-term television money. The Big 12 is better off today than it was at this time last year,” Gundy said.
Follow News Press sports editor Jason Elmquist on Twitter @jelmquistSW for updates on Oklahoma State and high school athletics.