12 Takeaways From BYU’s First Big 12 Media Day

Jul 13, 2023, 9:14 PM | Updated: Jul 14, 2023, 11:48 am

ARLINGTON, Texas – The BYU Cougars participated in an historic event, their first-ever Big 12 media days.

Head coach Kalani Sitake, and five members of the BYU football team, spoke with the media on the first day.

In commemoration of a historic moment in the history of BYU athletics, here are 12 takeaways from the Cougar’s first appearance at Big 12 media days 2023.

1. Conference expansion addressed

Commissioner Brett Yormark opened the event by recapping all the accomplishments from his first year before addressing conference expansion.

He clarified his comments from last year when he declared the conference was “open for business.”

Yormark explained that meant growing revenue, diversifying the conference, and trying new things.

“The excitement the four new members have brought to this conference has been incredible,” said Yormark.

“If we stay at 12 we’re perfectly fine with that. If the opportunity presents itself where there’s something that creates value and aligns well with our goals and objectives, then we’re certainly going to pursue it.”

I thought this was a refreshing comment from Yormark. There’s only a need to expand if the new incoming schools create obvious value.

It’s important to safeguard the unity and positivity that currently exists in the conference with the remaining 12 members.

Expansion should only be entertained if incoming schools are “all in” on the new Big 12 and the value brought warrants expansion.

2. Bitterness in Bedlam

Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy is one of the most interesting men in college football.

He’s always good for a memorable soundbite and he didn’t disappoint at media days.

I loved his commentary on the transfer portal and NIL. He’s absolutely right.

Regarding the final meeting in the Bedlam Series this season when the Cowboys host the Sooners, Gundy doubled down on his frustration.

“Everybody needs to realize, it didn’t have to happen if they didn’t change leagues,” said Gundy on the state of Oklahoma losing that rivalry game.

It’s a shame that this historic rivalry game will be playing its 118th meeting this fall, with no rematch in the future.

Realignment has come with some devasting blows to the sport. None more painful than losing annual rivalry games.

3. Mascots out of place

College pageantry is what separates the NFL from its collegiate counterpart.

There’s something special about the rabid fan bases, the marching bands, and the mascots.

BYU has benefited from all three of those things.

However, there are places a mascot feels out of place. Sadly, one of those places is media day.

Prior to every head coach taking questions in front of the media, which was televised on ESPNU, the fight song would play and the school’s mascot would dance in front of the media.

It was fairly uncomfortable without fans from their respective schools there to bring energy to the moment.

Worst of all, only one mascot had to do the awkward fight song dance more than once. Cosmo.

For some unknown reason, the BYU fight song played and Cosmo danced prior to Kalani Sitake taking the stage at media day.

Sitake was nowhere to be found.

The fight song died off halfway through when people realized Sitake wasn’t around, and Cosmo, accompanied by two cheerleaders, walked off to the side only to do the whole thing again five minutes later when it was time for Sitake to take questions.

Let’s leave the Mascots at home next year.

4. Cincinnati hates weekday night games

Conference games are Thursday and Friday nights are here to stay announced Yormark on day one.

BYU is familiar with weeknight games. They have no problem playing games on those days. The Cougars have been doing it for decades.

The same cannot be said for Cincinnati.

First-year Bearcat head coach Scott Satterfield didn’t mince words when answering a question about the short-week road trip to BYU early in the season.

“I hate short weeks,” Satterfield said.

His honesty was fantastic. It’s a very difficult road trip for Cincinnati on a short week while playing the game late in the evening on Eastern time.

It’s a huge opportunity for the Cougars to have an advantage like that early in the season.

5. Big 12 logo changes upcoming in 2024

Yormark is a master at creating brand awareness. It’s one of his strongest skill sets.

Playing games in Mexico, taking basketball teams to the famous Rucker Park in New York City, and adding an artist to perform at halftime of the Big 12 football championship game are a few of the things he’s doing to bring needed juice to the league.

However, I was surprised to hear that the conference will be changing its logo for the 2024 season.

The Roman numeral “12” has become a recognizable logo in college athletics.

I’m not against a logo rebrand, but I’m skeptical that the new logo will improve on what they already have.

For better or worse, the Big 12 is full steam ahead on changing it’s identify.

6. BYU AD Tom Holmoe talks stadium at media day

Stadium expansion has been a hot topic amongst fans since BYU accepted the invitation to the Big 12 back in September 2021.

What will the Cougars do with all the money that will flow in from the conference?

Holmoe made it clear that it won’t involve filling in the corners of Lavell Edwards Stadium in an interview with KSL Sports.

My best guess would be a focus on creating more higher-end experiences for high-paying fans and corporate sponsors.

The west stands press/loge boxes are due for a facelift, and maybe there’s a way to add new suites to the east sideline.

BYU will be careful in making any changes to Lavell Edwards stadium, but it’s fair to assume improvements are coming in the near future.

There just won’t be increased capacity in the corners of the stadium.

7. West Virginia head coach Neal Brown on the beach

One of the best stories from media days came courtesy of West Virginia head coach Neal Brown.

The mountaineers were picked dead last in the media preseason poll.

Brown didn’t appreciate the poll, and when he learned about the selection, it ruined his vacation.

He was on a beach somewhere when he got a text he immediately regretted reading.

One of the sports information directors had the unpleasant task of informing Brown about being picked 14th.

Rest and relaxation came to an end quickly while “football mode” was instantly activated, Brown told the media.

There are always teams picked at the bottom of the league each season that exceed expectations. Perhaps it will be West Virginia.

Brown needs a bounce-back year in order to remain the coach at West Virginia going into 2024.

8. Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian spoke highly of BYU

KSL sports zone radio hosts Alex Kirry and Hans Olsen had a great interview with Texas head coach Steve Sarkisian.

I highly suggest giving it a listen.

Sarkisian spoke highly of BYU and their addition to the conference.

It was fun to hear him reminisce about his time as the Cougar quarterback in 1996 when BYU won the Cotton Bowl.

When BYU goes to Texas in late October, it won’t be the first time the former Cougar signal-caller will coach against his Alma Mater, but it feels different than it did when he was the coach at Washington.

Maybe it’s the connection to Sitake or the fact that Texas is playing its final season in the Big 12 before leaving for the SEC.

Either way, it was cool to hear Sarkisian speak highly of BYU at media day.

9. Cosmo in mid-season form

Aside from the mishap prior to Sitake’s general media session, Cosmo demonstrated why he’s one of the best mascots in the country.

He rocked some custom Nike shoes with fur on the shoe, which became a social media hit.

While other mascots roamed the field and took pictures, Cosmo did flips off the stage and did interviews with media members.

It was obvious from watching him interact with other mascots that he’ll be a huge hit in this conference.

10. AT&T stadium “aspirational”

AT&T Stadium is breathtaking. It opened back in 2009. It’s not new, but it still feels big time.

The conference announced an extended partnership with the stadium through 2030.

This was the first time where it felt like BYU was at the table with the big boys.

Yormark said the venue was “aspirational” for athletes in the conference and it felt that way.

Hopefully, BYU fans will get the opportunity to see the Cougars play in this venue sometime before 2030.

11. The Bob Bowlsby Award

Bob Bowlsby saved the conference by quickly adding the four newcomers to the conference when Texas and Oklahoma bailed for the SEC.

His quick actions allowed Yormark to come in and have immediate success.

I thought it was a fitting tribute to announce a new award given out each year by the conference to one male and female athlete.

Ashley Joens of Iowa State and TCU quarterback Max Duggan were the inaugural winners of the award.

It was referred to by Yormark as the highest honor in the conference to receive this award.

12. Sneaky interesting game for BYU in November

Texas Tech head coach Joey McGuire has recent history with BYU.

He was on the Baylor coaching staff that beat the Cougars in 2021.

McGuire, like all other Big 12 head coaches, spoke highly of BYU at media day.

“I think it’s two programs and two head coaches with a lot of energy,” said McGuire. The Red Raiders were picked to finish 4th in the preseason poll.

“I think it’s going to be a great game. I think it’s going to be one of the best games of the year.”

There’s a good chance this matchup on October 21st, 2023 will have significant meaning in the Big 12 title race.

You can hear Matt Baiamonte every Saturday on KSL Newsradio for Cougar Sports Saturday from 12:00 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. or you can find him on Twitter here.

Take us with you wherever you go.

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12 Takeaways From BYU’s First Big 12 Media Day