What Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark said about Utah and the four corners joining the league

Utah’s new conference is undergoing change, right as the CFP changes again.

Big 12 Conference Commissioner Brett Yormark walks around the field during the first quarter of the Big 12 Conference Championship game between Oklahoma State and Texas in Arlington, Texas, Saturday, Dec. 2, 2023. (Sara Diggins/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Utah’s new conference commissioner is turning his attention to Salt Lake.

Well, not just Salt Lake. But Tempe, Tucson, Boulder and the rest of the Four Corners schools joining the Big 12 this summer.

Commissioner Brett Yormark said he is deepening his talks with incoming universities as they transition to his league.

“We have a lot of work to integrate those four and transition them in the right way,” the commissioner said at the start of the Big 12 basketball tournament.

Maybe more importantly, the addition of Utah, Colorado, Arizona and Arizona State gives the Big 12 some reinforcements as the league loses Texas and Oklahoma. They won’t be one-to-one replacements, but they can give the league some political capital at a critical time.

Yormark reflected on that, saying the addition of all four schools was the “best-case scenario” for the league.

“We have gotten stronger in football,” Yormark said. “We have gotten stronger in basketball. We have gotten stronger in Olympic sports.”

Yormark might need to use that capital quickly. The College Football Playoff is already starting to change, with the SEC and Big Ten threatening to take up more automatic bids.

Although the CFP just expanded to 12 teams, reports of a new proposal surfaced that could push the format to 14 teams. The SEC and Big Ten could get six automatic spots.

Yormark will need to be in meetings with enough cachet to get the Big 12 a seat at the CFP table. In the 14-team proposal, the Big 12 could get two automatic teams in like the ACC.

Another element of CFP discussions is how the revenue will be distributed. Those talks could happen as soon as this week, ESPN reported.

“There have been ongoing conversations with respect to the next iteration of the CFP,” Yormark said. “I think it is fair we are making progress. We have had a lot of tough conversations.”

Another changing postseason might come to the NCAA Tournament. The field could expand from 68 to 76 teams. Theoretically, that would favor bubble teams from power conferences getting into the field.

Yormark said he wants the Big 12 to have a significant voice in any changes made.

“The data shows that if you do expand to 76, the Power Four conferences will benefit mostly,” he said. “And I think at the center of that will be the Big 12. I’m all about access. We have got the deepest conference in America.

“More access is great for us.”

A looming possibility centers around Big 12 expansion, too. Gonzaga, as a basketball-only member, has been talked about for over a year.

Yormark again deflected on whether he was interested in adding teams.

“Who knows,” he said. “Right now I love the makeup and composition of this conference.”

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