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Royston: Big 12 continues expansion talks, change is coming

Caden+Maston+at+the+Iowa+State+football+spring+game%2C+Jack+Trice+Stadium%2C+April+22.
Tyler Coe
Caden Maston at the Iowa State football spring game, Jack Trice Stadium, April 22.

Colorado officially joined the Big 12 last week, turning the 12-team conference into a 13-team conference.

Although Big 12 Commissioner Brett Yormark mentioned that 14 teams sounds like a good number for the conference, he is in no rush to add teams. During Big 12 Media Days, the biggest thing that Yormark is looking for in another expansion team is someone that fits the values of the Big 12.

It looks like Colorado is the team that fits the Big 12’s vision for the future. When it comes to college football, there is no team with as much hype around them than Colorado.

With the addition of Deion Sanders as head coach, Colorado has been changing drastically over the offseason. Players are flocking to the team in hopes of building up the new culture that Sanders is bringing.

With all the players coming and going from Colorado, there is no telling what the future holds for them. One thing is for sure though—Colorado is a team that finds its name in the headlines constantly. 

That publicity is one thing that will be attractive for Colorado’s future in the Big 12. It’s clear that Yormark is focusing on the business side of running the conference, so having a strong media market will be important for any future Big 12 schools.

With Colorado being in the limelight throughout the next season and with Sanders in his first year at the helm, all eyes will be on the success of the young team. Going forward, Sanders can continue his aggressive recruiting efforts and continue building a competitive football team when the time comes for them to enter the Big 12.

Also with Colorado being an original member of the Big 12, it seemed to be a no-brainer pick to snatch them back from the Pac-12. In Yormark’s short time with the conference, he has already generated hype and attention for the expansion the Big 12 has done so far.

Not only that, it doesn’t appear the conference is done growing.

Rumors are going around of one more school joining the Big 12. That school will also most likely come from the Pac-12.

Before realignment found its way back onto the front burner of Big 12 talk, Arizona State was one school that had a chance of sneaking into the Big 12. Adding the Sun Devils could have pumped up the competitiveness of wrestling in the Big 12.

However, with the addition of Colorado and the stipulation that only one more spot was open in the Big 12, talks of Arizona State joining have since died down completely. Now there are two strong options for the final expansion of the conference.

The obvious pick that looks to be the most likely option is Arizona. It seems that Yormark wants to continue solidifying the Big 12 as the best basketball conference in the nation.

Adding Arizona would boost the competitiveness of the Big 12 during basketball season, further increasing the attention the conference gets half of the year. Arizona was one of the top teams in the country going into the NCAA Tournament, although its season was cut surprisingly short by a miraculous Sweet 16 run by No. 15 Princeton.

If the Big 12 can’t get Arizona, it looks like UConn is the next team in line. UConn is the defending national champion in basketball, so it would be a homerun addition when it comes to the basketball side of the conference. Although, the addition of UConn won’t help the other parts of the conference as much as it would basketball.

The other option that Yormark may look into is balancing out the conference and adding another football school.

The obvious option then would be to add Oregon. The departure of Colorado has made other Pac-12 schools open to the idea of moving to a new conference as well.

Oregon would be the top option for most conferences looking to add a football powerhouse. The Ducks are consistently in the national rankings and produce NFL talent year after year.

However, it also seems that the Big Ten is heavily interested in Oregon. When it comes down to which conference would be a better fit for the Ducks, they may lean more toward the Big Ten.

The more likely team to leave the Pac-12 for the Big 12 would be Utah if Oregon decides to either stay or move to the Big Ten. Utah is trending in a positive direction on the football scene, winning the Pac-12 Championship and dominating the conference all year. The Utes also finished the 2022 season ranked in the top 10.

The addition of Utah could bolster the football side of the Big 12. Not to mention the addition of Utah would add a solid rivalry for BYU, which is also stationed in Utah.

There look to be plenty of options for one final team in the Big 12, so whatever school Yormark chooses will add something beneficial to the conference. 

The addition of Colorado was a homerun, but it’s also clear that Yormark isn’t done yet. More change is still on the horizon for the Big 12.

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