Nearly six weeks ago both Texas and Oklahoma announced they would be leaving the Big 12 for the SEC. This sparked what was expected to be the next wave of conference realignment.
The Big 12 felt it was blindsided, and conference commissioner Bob Bowlsby was left furious and embarrassed.
Bowlsby even went as far to accuse the AAC and ESPN of colluding to steal away three to five more teams from the Big 12. It looked as if the Big 12 was going to be relegated to a Group of Five conference and could be replaced by the AAC.
The Pac-12, ACC and Big Ten announced an alliance as the conferences scrambled to adjust to the new “super conference” philosophy. The SEC has one organically. Its teams are just that dominating. The newly formed super conferences are just cherry-picking the elite teams and weakening the opposing conferences.
The PAC 12 considered expansion but decided against it and said they didn’t want the Big 12 remains. Big 12 conference went into full panic mode and began holding conference expansion meetings in response to the shift in college football. And everything was on the table.
A New Big 12: BYU Takes The Leap
According to multiple reports, BYU was the first to receive consideration to join the Big 12. The conference’s TV numbers are a big draw to a football independent like the Provo, Utah, school.
Day job: Hammered out this story about BYU joining the Big 12 as the press conference unfolded just nowhttps://t.co/87FO7WGwU4
— Brett Hein (@bhein3) September 10, 2021
Many thought two AAC schools would also get the nod to join, and most believed UCF and Cincinnati would be chosen.
But Bowlsby has added three from the AAC. UCF has TV numbers comparable to other Big 12 programs, and Cincinnati has access to a great market. Cincy is one of the best programs at its level in the country over the past two decades. Both were perfect choices.
Houston Stepping It Up
Houston is the third piece of the trio. The Cougars have historic success and ties to portions of the Big 12 through their old Southwestern Conference days. All of these programs have elite facilities and generate money comparable to some other power conference teams.
We have some Big news.
— University of Houston (@UHouston) September 10, 2021
This mass realignment was inevitable, but it only came to fruition because of the sudden move by Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC.
BYU, as a football independent, could move to the Big 12 whenever it chooses. However, they’ll wait until 2023 to join with the rest of their sports.
Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF are required to pay a $10 million exit fee to the AAC. Other rules state that the abandoning schools must give a 27-month notice of departure from the conference.
Bowlsby announced that the three schools will join the new Big 12 “no later” than July 2024.