Big 12 Sports: Will Brett Yormark’s enigmatic ideas really pay off?

Big 12 Sports: Will Brett Yormark's enigmatic ideas really pay off?

It’s been less than a year since Brett Yormark was officially sworn in as the Big 12 conference commissioner and already, the 56-year-old has brought more to the table in the way of innovation and outside-the-box thinking than his predecessor, Bob Bowlsby, did. throughout his sleepy decade at the helm of the conference, a tenure during which the league all but died under Bowlsby’s tenure.

While many of Yormark’s moves have been well received, his latest attempts to push the boundaries in the name of raising the conference’s profile seem more like gimmicks than solid decisions that will have a significant impact.

Perhaps the boldest move Yormark has made in recent months is the idea of bringing its conference’s football and basketball product to Mexico, a possibility reported by several media outlets earlier this week. Indeed, all indications are that this plan is essentially a fait accompli, with 2024 being the likely start of business for the league south of the border.

What we still don’t know are the details of this international expansion. There have been no official announcements from the Big 12 about how many years this potential deal would last, which teams will be featured, or (more importantly) how much revenue it will bring the league. But make no mistake, this is an attempt to explore new markets in search of the kind of revenue this conference will need to generate to stay competitive with the other Power 5 leagues after Oklahoma and Texas vie for the SEC next summer.

However, this idea just doesn’t seem wise. In fact, it’s likely to draw the ire of the Big 12 fans who can miss valuable home games (especially in football) and who won’t be particularly pleased to see one of the most important events on their annual athletic schedule sent. leave for a foreign country.

Of course, the league could benefit from a multi-million payout if these games were sponsored by companies based in Mexico. But it would also mean that communities like Lubbock, Ames, Provo and Morgantown…communities that rely heavily on cash circulated by high-profile conference football games…will miss out on one of the most valuable revenue-generating weekends of the year.

So while Yormark and his global perspective might be happy to have a few million dollars more in the conference coffers, hotels, restaurants and small businesses in Lubbock would miss out on a valuable opportunity to stay in the black while people in a faraway country benefit. While it’s unlikely that any school will lose more than one home game over the span of a few seasons, even losing one of those weekends can take a toll on the good people of these college towns whose livelihoods often revolve around the college house. local. games.

Besides, how much impact would a random game between Kansas and West Virginia have on the people of Mexico? In a country where soccer is king, there’s little chance that playing soccer between two entities most Mexican citizens have never heard of will suddenly turn our southern neighbors into enough rabid fans of Big 12 football (or basketball) to Capture a new and emerging television market capable of moving the television ratings needle enough to impact the Big 12’s long-term bottom line.

Yes, the NFL has taken its product to Mexico in recent years, but the lure of world brands like the Kansas City Chiefs or the Las Vegas Raiders has a much greater appeal to international audiences than the Baylor Bears or the Iowa State Cyclones. Generations of Mexican kids aren’t going to grow up loving the Big 12 just because Cincinnati and Central Florida once had a tickle fight in front of 10,000 disinterested fans in Monterey.

What’s more, imagine if a crucial conference matchup was taken from a Big 12 community and played in Mexico City. That’s a possibility, as the league now faces a future with no dominant program, meaning that each season, an unexpected title contender could emerge. What a shame it would be for Texas Tech and Oklahoma State to play for a spot in the Big 12 championship game in Mexico instead of Stillwater or Lubbock, simply because Yormark and some beer company decided to cut a deal that would make the league some money that would probably it will never be filtered to any of these institutions, at least in the form of a significant amount.

Ultimately, the short-term potential gain from this plan is minimal. Collegiate athletics is a phenomenon unique to the United States, and there seems little chance that the people of Mexico will embrace American football or Big 12 basketball in a significant enough way to truly transform the league’s financial future. So why not keep the big 12 games where they belong? In communities that have vehemently supported these programs for over a century.

Speaking of moves that don’t seem to have any potential long-term financial benefits, Yormark also wants to revolutionize the big 12 television broadcasts possibly putting microphones on coaches, adding more in-game interviews, and extending locker room coverage. Isn’t that exactly what we’ve all been waiting for? Hearing Lance Liepold or Gus Malzahn on the mic will really bring fans to a Big 12 game on FS1 when Alabama is taking on Georgia on ABC.

When was the last time a sports fan watched an in-game interview and was completely blown away by what they discovered? What’s more, these ideas have already been floated by XFL and USFL reboots only to see the novelty quickly wear off, leading to almost no appreciable ratings increases. Furthermore, even if these changes had some kind of impact, we could be sure that the other conferences would just copy them, thus negating the Big 12’s innovation.

In the end, moving games overseas or cheating broadcasts are just cryptic ideas from a commissioner who prides himself on being a trendsetter but who also has a background in entertainment as much as sports. While no one wants Yormark to stop trying to come up with new ideas or push the envelope to improve this league’s financial situation, he must first and always consider what will make conference teams more competitive on a national level.

When the Big 12 teams start competing and winning national football titles on a regular basis, then, and only then, will the future of the league be truly revolutionized. Playing a soccer game in Mexico and listening to the coach complain about poor field conditions during the third quarter are certainly not going to be the plays that turn the Big 12 into a big boy conference. In fact, it’s tricks that make it seem like this league already believes that after next season, that’s exactly what it won’t be anymore.

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