No Texas, no OU, no problem: TV deal proves Big 12 will be just fine, commissioner says

LM Otero/AP

With Ashanti signing the national anthem, boxer Errol “The Truth” Spence Jr., leading the coin toss and other marketing touches, the Big 12 Championship Game between TCU and Kansas State clearly won style points in Commissioner Brett Yormark’s first big event.

But there’s also the business of running the conference, and that starts with promoting the teams and achievements, like the league’s TV deal with ESPN and FOX that was announced last month.

The six-year $2.28 billion contract begins in 2025, the first year Texas and Oklahoma are scheduled to move to the SEC.

“Texas, Oklahoma obviously great brands,” Yormark said. “But we’re bigger than one or two schools. I’ve said that from day one. I’ve been very bullish on the direction of this conference.

“The TV deal that’s a validation of where this conference is going. ESPN and FOX are bidding yes on the Big 12. The parity, and the fact that many of the continuing schools have played in the game the last couple of years is indicative of where we’re going.”

Last year’s title game matched Baylor against Oklahoma State.

The promoting continued as Yormark made the case for TCU’s inclusion in the College Football Playoff, even if the Horned Frogs lost to the Wildcats.

“Strength of schedule, how they performed all year long,” Yormark said. “The best way to take of business is to win, but if they don’t, they should definitely be in the playoffs. No question about it.”

TCU entered the game ranked third in the CFP rankings and one of three undefeated teams, behind Georgia and Michigan. The Bulldogs meet LSU in the SEC title game, the Wolverines take on Purdue for Big Ten championship.

Southern California is fourth but the Trojans lost to Utah on Friday night in the Pac-12 title game and likely played their way out of the top four. Ohio State and Alabama are fifth and sixth.

The top four teams will make the bracket announced Sunday. If TCU loses, it will have the best record of any team that’s not undefeated at 12-1.

Kansas State, 9-3, appears headed to the Sugar Bowl, no matter Saturday’s Big 12 outcome, with Alabama as a likely opponent.

Yormark also said the Big 12 title game, scheduled for AT&T Stadium through 2025, is likely to remain in the Dallas area,

“This is our home,” Yormark said. “We love it. It’s a world-class venue. The (Dallas) Cowboys are incredible hosts. We’ll continue to be here as long as we can.”

Previous Big 12 sites include Kansas City, Houston, San Antonio, St. Louis and Irving, Tex. Saturday is the eighth straight conference title game played at AT&T Stadium.

*Mid-December is the target time to release the 2023 conference football schedule, Yormark said. The season will be the first one to include 14 teams, the current 10 plus newcomers Houston, Cincinnati, Brigham Young and Central Florida..

The Big 12 will not have divisions, and the top two teams will play for the championship.