LAS VEGAS—Arizona and its fellow former Pac-12 friends don’t officially join the Big 12 Conference until Aug. 2, but the unofficial start of the Wildcats’ tenure in their new league began Tuesday with Big 12 Football Media Days at Allegiant Stadium.

The UA’s contingent of players, along with coach Brent Brennan, will participate on Wednesday along with seven other schools in the 16-team league. Tuesday saw the first octet, including five teams the Wildcats will play this fall.

The event opened with Big 12 commissioner Brett Yormark on a stage set up in the south end zone of the same field where the Pac-12 held its last handful of conference championship games. Yormark, hired in 2022, has overseen the league’s metamorphosis from a 10-team conference set to lose flagship members Oklahoma and Texas to one that has added eight new schools in the past two years.

“There has never been a better time than right now to be part of the Big 12,” Yormark said. “We are truly a national conference, in ten states, four time zones. And all eyes are now on the Big 12 for all the right reasons, and I think it’s safe to say we’re more relevant now than ever before.”

Arizona, ASU, Colorado and Utah come in from the Pac-12 a year after the Big 12 added Cincinnati, Houston and UCF from the AAC and independent BYU. The eight schools who were in the league prior to 2022 are Baylor, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, TCU and West Virginia.

“I’m familiar with all the new additions really over the last two years,” said TCU coach Sonny Dykes, a former Arizona assistant under Mike Stoops who previously was head coach at Cal and SMU. “We’ll see how that plays out, but I really truly believe, top to bottom, this is going to be the most competitive league in college football.”

Yormark said the Big 12 will be the “deepest conference in America,” and the league plans to brand games in November as a “race to the championship” which will be held in AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on Dec. 7.

Though he didn’t go into specifics, Yormark did mention the concept of naming rights for the conference as well as partnering with private equity groups. Both things had been reported in the past month.

“From a conference perspective, we are exploring all options,” he said. “I guess you could say we’re still open for business.”

The Big 12’s TV contract with ESPN and Fox, which runs through the 2030-31 season, is expected to pay each school more than $31 million per year. Yormark mentioned that part of this deal may include “new TV windows” to maximize the league having teams in every time zone.

In other words: expect the UA to have games both before noon and after dark.

“There’s a lot going on on Saturdays, as we all know,” Yormark said. “A lot of competition. So the question is, are there new TV windows we can explore where we can highlight, elevate and amplify our football programs maybe a little differently? And we’re exploring that. There’s nothing that we have vetted out specifically that I want to discuss just right now, but we’re working at it, and we’ll see where it takes us. But we’ve got to kick the tires and figure out other windows that make sense and provide great engagement for our fans and great exposure for our programs, and it’s incumbent upon me to explore it, which I’m doing.”

Among other announcements made Tuesday, Yormark said the Big 12 has partnered with Microsoft to provide tablets to football teams for use on the sidelines and in the coaching box during games. The league has also established an Alumni Council, the members of which will be unveiled on Wednesday.

“This is no time to press pause,” Yormark said. “We must continue to be bold and aggressive as an industry. The Big 12 will always be ambitious because that’s who we are. I know there’s a lot of pressure on a lot of people right now, but I will leave you with this: Pressure is a privilege.”

Arizona on tap for Wednesday

The UA will participate in Day 2 of Big 12 Media Days, with Brennan holding a press conference at approximately 1:20 p.m. PT. He’ll also be on ESPNU’s Big 12 show at 1 p.m., with quarterback Noah Fifita speaking to ESPNU at 1:15 p.m.

Fifita, wide receiver Tetairoa McMillan, linebacker Jacob Manu and safety Gunner Maldonado will conduct dozens of interviews in a car wash-style format all over the field at Allegiant.

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