Colorado won’t officially join the Big 12 Conference until next summer, but the process of making the transition is already underway.
Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark attended CU’s football game against Stanford on Friday at Folsom Field and said he’s been impressed with what’s coming into the conference next summer with CU, Arizona, Arizona State and Utah.
“Since I’ve been in the role as commissioner, I’ve been really impressed by going from campus to campus and the investments that are being made in affording student athletes to be the best version of themselves,” Yormark told BuffZone. “You know, the brick and mortar part of it plays a huge role. This place is breathtaking and the investments they’ve made in the student athletes, not just in football, basketball, but all sports, I think is tremendous. So I’ve been very impressed.”
In his 10 years as CU athletic director, Rick George has put a high priority on not just football and basketball, but women’s sports and providing for the student athletes in areas of such as mental health and nutrition. That commitment has impressed Yormark.
“It has and what I’ve said to Rick, specifically, is ‘bring us best practices from a conference perspective,’” he said. “We’ve talked a lot about mental health and nutrition and I look forward to leaning on him for best practices so we as a conference can get better. It’s all positive; very, very positive.”
In this age of realignment in college sports, there are plenty of moving parts every year. Yormark and the Big 12 have been busy welcoming four new schools that joined this past summer – BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston – but are also preparing to welcome CU, Arizona, ASU and Utah from the Pac-12 next year.
“I’ve been visiting their campuses and their ADs have been integrated into our ecosystem already, as their presidents have,” Yormark said. “They’ve only got 10 months to transition in, so we’ve got a lot of work to do together but we’re focused not only on the current conference, but where this thing is going in the future and the four-corner schools play a big role.”
In football, Utah is nationally ranked, at No. 14; Arizona is on the rise and last weekend routed then-No. 19 Washington State; and CU is having a resurgent season under first-year coach Deion Sanders. ASU has struggled, but Yormark said, “Arizona State’s gonna get there. We think we’ve gotten much better.”
As for the football schedule and whether the Big 12 would go to eight- or nine-game conference slates in the future, Yormark said, “We’re working on it right now.”
He added that the football schedule could be announced, “Probably in the next 45 days.” On Tuesday at the Big 12 women’s basketball media day, he told reporters a schedule could come out, “Sometime late November, December.”
In coming up with the football schedule, Yormark told BuffZone, “We’re going to be very diligent about that process now that there’s four new schools. We’re focused on the competitive balance, we’re focused on geography, we’re looking at rivalries and historic matchups. Those are our four guiding principles, and we’re working through it. We had AD meetings last week, where we continue to vet out all the possibilities and we’ll get there.”
Yormark said the 16-team conference will not split into divisions.
UCLA game sold out
On Tuesday, it was announced that CU’s game at UCLA on Oct. 28 at the Rose Bowl has been sold out.
UCLA doesn’t open the entire stadium, which holds nearly 90,000 fans, as it tarps off some sections. But, the Bruins are capping tickets at 67,066 and those have been sold out. It will be the largest crowd of the season for the Buffs.
Prior to this year, CU had never played in front of more than five consecutive sold-out crowds, but the Buffs have played in front of a sellout every week to this point. UCLA will be the eighth consecutive sellout, and the two games after that – at home vs. Oregon State and Arizona – are already sold out.
CU’s last two games, at Washington State and at Utah, are close to being sold out.