Utah AD Mark Harlan On First Year In Big 12: ‘This Is A Great Fit For Us’

Jul 9, 2024, 1:25 PM

University of Utah Athletics Director Mark Harlan Big 12 Media Days Utes Football...

(Photo courtesy of KSL Sports)

(Photo courtesy of KSL Sports)

SALT LAKE CITY – It’s an important time for the University of Utah and athletics director Mark Harlan believes the school is in a great spot in the Big 12 Conference.

After uncertainty in the Pac-12 became too much to ignore, the Utes were proactive and are now beginning a new era.

Mark Harlan, Utah Take On First Big 12 Media Day

Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark opened the 2024 Media Days by speaking highly of the evolution of the conference and the four new schools.

It seems like just the other day Utah’s future was in question. Now, the school has found a home and it already seems like a perfect fit.

Harlan said that the transition has been smooth while still keeping everyone busy.

“It’s certainly been in stages,” Harlan said. “We were blessed to connect with Commissioner Yormark early. It got less emotional and more ‘to work’. This is a great fit for us. It really hasn’t been all that challenging. It has felt right and we’re excited to be here.”

The ever-changing landscape of college athletics has brought positives and negatives.

Sports fans will enjoy the new playoff format and competitive conference format. But, rivalries and smaller schools have been left in the rearview mirror in a lot of cases.

Harlan spoke on the Utah/BYU rivalry and what it means to the Big 12.

“Realignment’s been crazy but you got a rivalry that’s come back together when a lot of them have been pulled apart,” Harlan said. “We realized that we’re not (committed to playing BYU on the last day of the season). We all agreed to put it on a day where it can get the best possible coverage.  If we’re going to play each other and it’s going to mean so much, let’s show the nation.”

Despite having a disappointing year in 2023, Utah is still the favorite in its first year in a new conference.

Although this has ruffled some feathers, Harlan believes it’s a reflection of Kyle Whittingham and what he’s created with Utah Football.

“It speaks to Kyle Whittingham and what he’s built,” Harlan said. “It’s who we’ve been. Its a testament to the culture, the toughness, and the students through the years that have allowed us to make this transition.”

About 2024 Big 12 Media Days

For the first time, the Big 12 is making its way to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Allegiant Stadium, home of the Las Vegas Raiders, is hosting the two-day event on Tuesday, July 9, and Wednesday, July 10.

The BYU Cougars will be attending their second Media Day as a member of the Big 12 after joining the conference in 2023. Last year, the Media Days were held at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas.

Utah is one of four newcomers to the Big 12 in 2024. The Utes will have a sense of familiarity at Allegiant Stadium though, having attended the 2023 Pac-12 Media Day at Resorts World in Las Vegas.

Chandler Holt is a co-host of the Jazz Notes podcast, a Locals In The NFL Insider, and Digital Sports Producer for KSLSports.com. Follow Chandler on Twitter @ChandlerHoltKSL or on Threads @chandlerho1t.

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Utah AD Mark Harlan On First Year In Big 12: ‘This Is A Great Fit For Us’