After the wheels were put into motion just over two years ago when Texas and Oklahoma made their move to the SEC, the Big 12 has completed its comeback and dismantling of the Pac-12. After Colorado joined at the end of July, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah have also joined the league now.
During the time of change, Bob Bowlsby began his transition out of the commissioner’s office, and eventually, his job was given to Brett Yormark to help save the day. More conference realignment came in 2022 when the Big Ten dropped the bomb of stealing USC and UCLA from the Pac-12, creating more instability out west.
While Yormark and the Big 12 announced the league was open for business, they hauled in respectable adds that helped save the conference from death with BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and UCF. But still, Yormark wanted more and a bigger splash to help the league solidify it being the third-best conference behind the mega powers of the SEC and Big Ten.
Yormark set his eyes on the fragile Pac-12, who had lost its two biggest cash cows and rumors swirled that Oregon and Washington would eventually join the Big Ten as well.
Yormark made calculated moves to help the Big 12 gain the upper hand on the Pac-12, as the ACC had already sealed its fate with a bad TV and grant of rights deal that would pay them significantly less for the long term future.
Yormark triggered early negotiations with TV networks FOX and ESPN to jump the line ahead of the Pac-12, whose TV deal was up one year sooner. Yormark delivered a combo deal with the two partners of FOX and ESPN, which will pay each school roughly $31.7 million per year moving forward. Yormark also made sure that any Power 5 additions to the conference would get that full TV number, unlike other leagues where teams come in at lesser numbers before becoming full members.
The Pac-12 had trouble selling their rights without USC and UCLA, and also faced a TV market where money is tightening up and networks are becoming smarter about what they do and don’t spend money on. Despite Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and university administrators from schools like Washington State and Oregon State, that are likely to get left out of a power conference when this all ends, guarantees that a deal was coming, it never did. And Colorado was the first to get tired of the charade and make the jump back to the league they left 12 years ago.
Then on the first Friday in August, Yormark made his final move to win the war between the Big 12 and everyone that left them for dead, as Arizona, Arizona State and Utah finally made their move to the Big 12.
All four new schools will be full members in 2024-2025 and the Big 12 now sits at 16 teams and is easily the number three conference in stability and value behind the SEC and Big Ten. Pretty good for a league that had just eight guaranteed members at this time two years ago.
Big 12 Conference Adds Arizona, Arizona State and Utah pic.twitter.com/Or4ypfW7d8
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) August 5, 2023