When the Big 12 Conference added Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah on Friday, it extended the league’s membership to 16 universities for the start of the 2024-25 academic year. That trio’s move to the Big 12 was simultaneous with Oregon and Washington’s move to the Big Ten Conference, bolstering its membership to 18.
The Pac-12 now has just four league members. The ACC appears to be on unsteady ground, with Florida State most notably voicing its displeasure with the conference.
Since taking over the Big 12’s highest-ranking office last year, Commissioner Brett Yormark has successfully onboarded four programs (BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston) and added four more (Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah) to combat the upcoming departures of Texas and Oklahoma.
“I’ve been really impressed with Commissioner Yormark since he took over. I think he’s been aggressive,” WVU football head coach Neal Brown said. “Commissioner Yormark’s had a plan since the beginning. And now, we’re sitting at 16 teams, and I think that for the last several months we’ve been [in] a position of power.”
In a relatively short time, the Big 12 Conference has grown to have a footprint in 10 states and three time zones beginning next July.
Not mincing his words, Brown stated that college football got to its current position because of money. He called the sport a business, adding a comparison to the NFL’s bottom-line-driven business model.
“You either eat, or you get eaten,” said Brown. “At least right now, from a West Virginia standpoint, we’re in the group that’s at least eating.”
One of the most interesting sports-related facts about West Virginia is this: Milan Puskar Stadium, when filled to at least 83 percent capacity, becomes the largest “city” in the state of West Virginia. It is the only football stadium that holds a larger population than its home state’s largest city.
Brown did not have the data in front of him, but he felt confident Saturday when he assumed aloud that WVU’s home football games are “the biggest revenue dates in town.”
Brown brought that up amid a point he was making on college football and its status. He had hinted at the sport’s declining attendance numbers. He also pointed out that, with its smaller schedule compared to other sports, college football games become events.
Beginning this fall and continuing for a few years to come, West Virginia will welcome some new acts into Morgantown for home sporting events.
“A lot of times those events are wrapped around rivalries, which I think are really good,” Brown said. “But now that’s changing. And maybe there’s going to be new rivalries. OK? Maybe there’s going to be different things the way that we’re looking at, you know, basically four (power) conferences now. They’re spread coast to coast. Well, maybe they’re different. Maybe they can be better.”