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New Big 12 AD Hints At Football Divisions For 16-Team League

Aug 5, 2023, 10:17 PM | Updated: 10:20 pm

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Big 12 football will jump up to 16 teams beginning in 2024. (Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

(Mitch Harper, KSL Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY – There are so many questions in the future for the Big 12 Conference after adding Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, and Utah.

One of the big questions will surround scheduling in football for the 16-team league beginning with the 2024 season. The Big 12 will have 14 members in 2023 and is going with a division-less model to determine its top two teams to play in the Big 12 Championship game in Arlington, Texas.

 

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Will the division-less model continue into the 16-team era? To be determined.

Arizona State AD hints at Big 12 football divisions

Arizona State athletic director Ray Anderson spoke with Phoenix-area reporters in a media scrum on Saturday alongside Arizona State President Dr. Michael Crow. Anderson, the ASU AD since 2014, hinted at divisions returning.

“Yeah, you’re gonna try to in the Olympic sports go to divisions, and probably do that in football as well,” Anderson said on Saturday. “Travel and regionalization still make sense. But it really makes sense in the Olympic sports.”

The last time the Big 12 Conference had divisions was in 2010. That was when Nebraska won the North Division and Oklahoma won the South.

The Big 12 has a western wing now with the two Utah schools (BYU, Utah), two in Arizona (Arizona, Arizona State), and Colorado. Plus, Texas Tech is located in West Texas (Lubbock). Bring in two more Texas schools and you could have an intriguing eight-team division.

It would be a shift back to an older model. The Big Ten, SEC, and ACC, have all moved away from divisions in their respective leagues.

Regionality was a topic

Hearing the commentary from Anderson and Dr. Crow, regionality is a big priority to them.

Dr. Crow stated his first conversation with the Big 12 Board of Directors was on Friday at 10:30 a.m. (MST). He said he spoke with Commissioner Brett Yormark, Baylor President (Linda Livingstone), Iowa State (Wendy Wintersteen), and Kansas (Douglas Girod).

“The focus was on how to build a solid, tradition-based, sports-focused, athletes success-focused conference of many, many schools. This is all new. The conferences all used to be small,” Dr. Crow said. “… And so we were focused on how do we make this work for our athletes?”

After that conversation, Arizona State applied for membership into the Big 12 and were unanimously approved.

The four corner programs in the Big 12 Conference will officially join the league on August 2, 2024.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for KSLsports.com and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow Mitch’s coverage of BYU in the Big 12 Conference on Twitter/X and Threads: @Mitch_Harper.

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New Big 12 AD Hints At Football Divisions For 16-Team League