Skip to main content

Top Storylines To Follow At Big 12 Media Days

Here are six storylines all Big 12 fans should know entering media days later this week.

It's clear that college football is inching closer to kickoff with the start of media days. First up is the Big 12, which begins its annual meetings with the media on Wednesday and Thursday at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

There are questions surrounding the future of the conference besides the departures of Texas and Oklahoma. Baylor recently took over as the new champion of the conference with its first 12-win season in program history. Is this the beginning of a new chapter? The same goes for Oklahoma State, which could be the top option in terms of revenue with both the Sooners and Longhorns leaving for the SEC.

Wednesday will also be the first time new commissioner Brett Yormark will meet with the media since being named the successor to Bob Bowlsby. While he won't be starting the job until August 1, there will be plenty of questions surrounding his involvement in conference realignment and potential expansion.

What else is on the docket for the 10 schools? Here are some of the top storylines to follow entering Big 12 Media Days.

Yormark's Year-Long Plan

The former CEO of Roc Nation will have his work cut out for him in Year 1. The first order of business will be getting ready for the arrival of four new programs in 2023. The second will be further discussing expansion.

BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston are all set to join the conference next July. According to reports, the Big 12 has reached out to six Pac-12 programs for potential further expansion. Schools such as Arizona and Arizona State seem to be aggressive in hoping to join the conference, but will Yormark take any if Washington and Oregon decline an invitation?

Yormark will have a new challenge at hand going from the professional sporting world to the collegiate one. Prior to joining Jay-Z's entertainment company, he served as an executive with the NBA's Brooklyn Nets and NASCAR. He's an outsider to the realm of college athletics, meaning everything said will be under the microscope.

Division Realignment?

Come 2023, the Big 12 will actually be the Big 12. Four new schools are set to join the AAC, which could lead to the discussion of divisions returning for the first time since 2011.

Until further notice, Texas and Oklahoma will remain members of the conference through their current deal until 2025. This means that the Big 12 will feature 14 teams, often leading to divisional games deciding which two schools will play for the conference title.

Both the Pac-12 and ACC plan on dissolving divisions in the future and instead will have a 3-6 schedule where three rivals would remain a constant and six additional conference opponents would rotate each season. Could that be the next move for Yormark and the Big 12?

In retrospect, the Big 12 will only feature 14 teams for a minimum of two years barring any extension conversations. It could be a moot point, but if the Big 12 is looking for more programs, it also could be the start of a new era in the conference.

One-year Wonder Baylor?

Dave Aranda was the right hire in Waco after all. One year after going 2-7 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Bears rebounded to win the Big 12 title and later the Sugar Bowl over No. 7 Ole Miss.

This could be the start of a new era in the conference. It also could mean nothing. For years, the Bears have often found themselves near the cellar of the standings. This offseason, Aranda was tasked with replacing stars such as All-American safety Jalen Pitre, linebacker Terrel Bernard, receiver Tyquan Thornton and running back Abrahm Smith.

Baylor enters as the preseason favorite to repeat as Big 12 champs, but by no means are voters putting them miles ahead of everyone else. Baylor received 17 of the 41 first-place votes while Oklahoma finished second with 12. Oklahoma State, which finished second in the conference last year, received nine first-place votes. Texas also found its way into the first place rankings with two votes while Iowa State received one.

The expectation at Baylor is another 10-plus win season. It all will come down to the new starters on Arnada's defense and the progression of quarterback Blake Shapen.

So, is Texas "Back" Yet?

Steve Sarkisian made headlines last month when can't-miss quarterback recruit Arch Manning pledged his commitment to the program. Besides that, the second-year Longhorns coach has plenty of questions surrounding his long-term future.

Sarkisian was brought in to provide better results than Tom Herman. So far, Texas stumbled in the second half of games on the way to a 5-7 record in Year 1. The Longhorn boosters aren't keen on back-to-back losing seasons with coaches and can be impatient

Even Nick Saban struggled in Year 1 at Alabama back in 2007, meaning Sark should have another year to right the ship. The Longhorns should be better with the additions of transfer quarterback Quinn Ewers, receiver Isaiah Neyor and tight end Jaheel Billingsley. After Manning's commitment, Texas has become a favorite to land prime talent.

All that is fine on paper, but fans and boosters want results on the field. Sarkisian and the players are going to have to answer plenty of questions of how much they've improved in their quest to be "back" for good.

A Rebounding Oklahoma Roster?

Most programs consider a 10-win season successful. Oklahoma is not like most programs, meaning 10 wins is a standard rather than a goal.

Longtime Clemson defensive coordinator Brent Venables heads back to Norman with the intent of keeping the Sooners as favorites moving forward. That's easier said than done since only one player was named to the Preseason All-Big 12 roster. Quarterback Caleb Williams is off to USC with Lincoln Riley while receivers Jadon Haselwood (Arkansas) and Mario Williams (USC) entered the transfer portal as well.

The Sooners should benefit from new offensive coordinator Jeff Lebby's relationship with new quarterback Dillon Gabriel. The two made headlines at UCF in 2019 before Lebby was offered the OC position on Lane Kiffin's staff at Ole Miss. Oklahoma also added cornerbacks Trey Morrison (North Carolina) and CJ Coldon (Wyoming) to fortify the secondary.

For years, it was Oklahoma and "insert team here" for the Big 12 title. Now, the Sooners could be the underdog in the final days of being members of the conference.

The "Next" Baylor?

Until further notice, Texas Tech and Kansas will remain at the bottom of the standings. Then again, Baylor was projected to finish eighth in 2021. Could the Jayhawks and Red Raiders be among the surprises of 2022?

The Jayhawks looked competitive for the first time in over a decade under the direction of Lance Leipold. While beating Texas was the highlight of the program's season, Kansas also kept things close against Oklahoma, TCU and West Virginia, losing all three games by a combined 21 points.

The Red Raiders have been on a tear in terms of recruiting with Joey McGuire at the helm. Texas Tech also returned both Tyler Shough and Donovan Smith at quarterback and are riding off its first winning season since 2015. Could that translate into better play for 2022?

Both Texas Tech and Kansas have rigorous schedules, but anything can happen on a college football Saturday. One of those "anythings" could be progress from one of the bottom-dwellers in the conference. Hearing the feedback from both coaches could provide an early indication of where the rebuilding programs stand entering Week 1.

Follow the Texas Tech Red Raiders Daily Blitz Podcast HERE

Follow Red Raider Review on Facebook and Twitter!

Want More Red Raiders News? Check Out The Latest In Texas Tech News Here