ARLINGTON, Texas—Big on vision.
Understandably short on particulars.
That’s the biggest takeaway from Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark’s first meeting with the media.
A former garage band drummer, Yormark is full of energy. He even jogged in the Texas heat a few hours before taking the podium at 8:30 am Wednesday at Big 12 Media Days.
It’s therapeutic. It’s a wonderful opportunity to think about his new place in college athletics’ changing landscape, and there’s a lot of thinking to be done.
Let’s break down a few of Yormark’s talking points, while also remembering he was named Bob Bowlsby’s successor during the same week USC and UCLA announced leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.
In that respect, he gets a break for not citing specific details for the Big 12’s future.
The world changed a lot between the time he said yes to the job and Wednesday.
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Anticipate more Big 12 expansion
Yormark didn’t even dance around the question. He was straight to the point: The Big 12 plans to expand more.
“It’s fair to say I’ve received a lot of phone calls,” Yormark said. “Nothing is imminent, but we’re working hard to make sure the Big 12 is positioned in the best possible way.
“The Big 12 is open for business. We will leave no stone unturned to drive value for the conference.”
He neither confirmed nor denied reports that the Big 12 was in deep discussion with the Pac-12’s Arizona, Arizona State, Utah and Washington.
“We’re in exploratory mode,” Yormark said during a huddle with reporters after his podium remarks.
“We will leave no stone unturned,” he said again.
He gets a pass for a lack of specifics in this area, too. He knew he’d eventually have to deal with realignment, but to get smacked in the kisser with it almost as soon as he said “I do” to the Big 12’s presidents’ offer?
Welcome to the Big 12, Commissioner Yorkmark.
More:Peterson: What are Iowa State football talking points? We’ll find out Thursday at Big 12 Media Days
Yormark plans to innovate name, image and likeness front
That’s a good thing. It’s a huge thing as we enter an age in which college athletes are legally getting paid for helping universities make millions of dollars.
“I’m an advocate of NIL,” said Yormark, a former executive at Roc Nation, an entertainment company founded by rapper Jay-Z. “I’ve gotten my feet wet to some degree at Roc Nation, where we have been engaged with NIL.”
He’s aware the NIL business is all over the board. There are few, if any rules, and nothing in that respect appears to be coming.
“There needs to be guardrails,” he said. “There probably needs to be uniformity. Maybe the conference needs to take a bigger role in what NIL looks like going forward.
“I think, given my background, having spent so much time in the commercial space, I’m very well-suited for NIL in whatever form it takes on a go-forward basis.”
Yorkmark might be on the right track. No one has come forward with rules proposals. It might as well start at the conference level.
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Yormark says everyone is on the same page
“We’re aligned,” he said, referring to the conference’s university presidents. “They want us to grow the brand, they want us to grow the business. They want to create value now that leads to a big moment when we think about our multi-media rights negotiation. Everything we do now needs to build on that moment.
“We’re engaged. We’re a unified group. We’re in great shape, the collective group today. How do we add to it? That’s my focus.”
How to follow along:The Big 12 Media Days event will be held on Wednesday and Thursday. Here’s how you can watch.
Outgoing commissioner Bowlsby said nearly the same at Big 12 Media Days 2021. A few days after the annual event, however, came the Texas-Oklahoma to the SEC announcement.
“Some of you will recall that I said at the time that I thought our board was as aligned as I had seen them during my 10 years with the Big 12,” Bowlsby said Wednesday. “It was, I think, eight days later that the OU and Texas announced they were going to the SEC.
“So, you can take my assessment of calm waters for what they’re worth.”
You can say the same about Yormark’s first public remarks. We don’t know immediately where the college sports train is headed, nor can we expect someone who’s been the job for just a few weeks to know, either.
Iowa State columnist Randy Peterson embarked on his 50th year of writing sports for the Des Moines Register in December 2021. Reach him at email@example.com, 515-284-8132, and on Twitter at @RandyPete.