Friday, September 10, 2021

Big 12 invites BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston to join

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas.  (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

In this Oct. 7, 2017, file photo, a Big 12 pylon marks the end zone at Darrell K Royal Texas Memorial Stadium before an NCAA college football game between Texas and Kansas State in Austin, Texas. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)


The Big 12 extended membership invitations Friday for BYU, UCF, Cincinnati and Houston to join the Power Five conference that will be losing Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference.

The eight continuing members of the Big 12 unanimously approved the applications of the four schools.

The moves come six weeks after the SEC invited Texas and Oklahoma to join its league in time for the 2025-26 season. There remains the possibility that could happen sooner, but the Big 12 is focused on its additions for now.

After identifying its primary expansion targets last week, the Big 12 moved quickly to make it happen. The four schools had previously been vetted and interviewed by the league in 2016 when it considered expansion before staying at 10 teams.

BYU said all its sports will begin Big 12 schedules in the 2023-24 athletic season. BYU is an independent in football, but competes in the West Coast Conference for basketball and its Olympic sports.

UCF, Houston and Cincinnati are in the American Athletic Conference, which requires members to give 27 months’ notice if they plan to leave the league, though there could be negotiations between the schools and that league to reduce the time before beginning Big 12 play.

“Today’s news confirms what we have said all along regarding our status as a power conference,” AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco said. “The irony that three of our schools are being asked to take the place of the two marquee schools which are leaving the Big 12 is not lost on us. Our conference was targeted for exceeding expectations in a system that wasn’t designed to accommodate our success.”

Aresco said the ACC expected Houston, Cincinnati and UCF to “abide by the conference bylaws to ensure an amicable and orderly transition” as the league considers its options.

The Longhorns and Sooners have said they will honor their current contracts with the Big 12 and do not plan to join the SEC until 2025, when the conference’s current television rights contracts with ESPN and Fox run out. If they did stay, the Big 12 could have up to 14 members for at least a season or two.

With the additions, the Big 12 will be spread across eight states and three time zones. There are more than 2,300 miles between the UCF campus in Orlando and BYU in Provo, Utah. Once settled in the Big 12, the Knights and Cougars will both face average trips of around 1,300 miles each way when traveling for conference games.

West Virginia still will average about 1,100 miles each way on the road, but the Mountaineers at least picked up a relatively short trip with Cincinnati just more than 300 miles from Morgantown. Houston faces much shorter trips for its Texas-based foes.

“Joining the Big 12 Conference is a historic step in our institutional journey and signifies the tremendous growth and success attained academically and athletically over the last decade,” Houston chancellor Renu Kahtor said.

Half of the league’s 12 charter members will remain when Texas and Oklahoma are gone.

The Big 12 began play in 1996, when all the Big Eight Conference teams (Colorado, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, Missouri, Nebraska Oklahoma and Oklahoma State) joined four Texas schools from the old Southwest Conference (Baylor, Texas, Texas A&M; and Texas Tech) to form a new league split into six-team divisions.

Arkansas had left the SWC a few years earlier to join an expanded 12-team SEC, starting play there with South Carolina in the 1992 season. The SEC is now set to grow to 16 teams, with its last four additions all coming from the Big 12.

The Big 12 has been a 10-team league since the last significant round of conference realignment a decade ago that started with Nebraska going to the Big Ten and Colorado to the Pac-12, before Texas A&M; and Missouri left for the SEC. TCU and West Virginia, the two teams added then, are both now in their 10th Big 12 season.


Brett McCabe 9 months, 4 weeks ago

You want to make it a real league? Allow each team one tune up game, and then play all 11 teams in the league. The current league already requires 9 league games plus an FBS opponent for 10 FBS games. Why not go to 11 and start building some rivalries? Forget the divisions, and take the top two teams to the conference championship.

And I’d prefer home and home against all teams in bball. Plus, drop that SEC showdown. Bill can get over himself when it comes to scheduling.

Dale Rogers 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I also was thinking I prefer the 11-game conference format for football and 22-game format for basketball.

Suzi Marshall 9 months, 4 weeks ago

OMG! One of the very few opinions I'm actually agreeing with Brett! I also see the 11 game football and home-home bball schedules as very important. One conference,,,,the top two regular season finishers play for the conference championship. Kansas should lock in the KC Big 12 Basketball Championship asap. Personally I hate that tournament but love the excitement it creates in the city especially when ISU is in the hunt.

Austin Lopez 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I LOVE IT! This is a solid foundation! This puts the Big 12 in a really good position for there future! PAC12 and ACC are in the same positions the Big12 were in! If the SEC or BIG10 decides to go after there Flagship schools. Without Oregon and USC the PAC12 are done! Without Clemson and Florida State the ACC are also done! What happen to the Big12 can also happen to those 2 conferences!

Mike Nicco 9 months, 4 weeks ago

TV market size and trend: Houston #8 (-), Orlando #17 (+1), Salt Lake City #30 (-), Cincinnati #36 (+1).
Flat to growing from last year to this year.

2011 TV market size: Houston #10, Orlando #19, Salt Lake City #33, Cincinnati #35

Rodney Crain 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Mike this looks like its from the Nielsen DMA's, is it?

Mike Nicco 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Yes. Quick search. Might post Households and population soon. Heading to the game now.

Rodney Crain 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Thanks Mike, Thought so. Its the one to use.

Eric Dawson 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Brett, I agree, a full round robin schedule. I also would have no issues with making the season 14 games long instead of 12, to allow for still having 3 noncon games. I know that needs approval at echelons above conference, but it makes sense to me (and cents as well). And you can still have a conference title game, with the top two teams playing for the glory.

And if the Big 12 should actually be 14 team’s for a couple of years before OUT leave, 14 games would still allow a true round robin +1.

And hoops — do a 22 game (2x11 double round robin) conference season, allowing for 9 noncon games in the current 31 game max regular season. 26 +5 games for the final OUT seasons. Yep, I like that.

Dale Rogers 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I assume "OUT" was a tongue-in-cheek comment. I like it!

Jesse Johnson 9 months, 4 weeks ago


As a KU fan living in Utah, can't wait to go see the Jayhawks play in the Marriot center!!!!

Gavin Fritton 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Fine. I'll play along. For now, at least.

But the Big XII needs to move the conference headquarters back to Kansas City (on the KANSAS side) and probably also the football championship needs to be moved back to Arrowhead.

This is no longer Texas' conference and it never should have been.

Dale Stringer 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Let's keep it going... ... Now that Texas is leaving, we can send invitations to Colorado and Nebraska to come back. ... Poach from the SEC and ask Arkansas to join. ... Get more from the ACC and ask everyone else in the ACC too.

Maybe we could get to 20 teams. Then every 2 years hold a 'Division Draft' to pick the two groups. Bet ESPN would pay to televise that and force the SEC and BigG to do it too.

Jim Pendleton 9 months, 4 weeks ago

For starters, Colorado will never come back to the Big 12. They always wanted to be in the Pac 10, now Pac 12 after they and Utah joined. Nebraska is not likely to leave the Big Ten in my opinion.

Along the same lines, I don't ever see anyone in the SEC ever leaving that league. The money and alledged stability is all that matters to the other schools in that league outside of maybe Alabama, Georgia, LSU, and Florida, who all believe they are good enough to not only win their league, but national titles as well in any given year.

Here is the irony in all this - these schools are now first and foremost all about the money and stability of being in a top conference. Do they want to win, yes, but that has become secondary to the almighty $$. Fans of these schools have all reacted the same way. Initially they think being in a new league is a great idea, but a few years in, ask their fans how they feel about being in those leagues when they aren't winning anything, and in some cases are not even bowl eligible, let alone playing for anything big nationally. Nebraska is no longer a national power. How are OU and Texas fans going to react to a few 9-3, 8-4, or worse years. Yeah the money will be great, but the fans won't like being an after thought.

Sorry I will also disagree with playing more conference games. Power conferences should all be playing the same type schedules, so they can be judged the same way. That's been my biggest complaint about the SEC, yes they have good quality programs, but they are only playing eight conference games in a 14 team league, while all the other leagues play nine. I like what a lot of the leagues have done in recent years, where they mandate playing at least one other Power Five school each year. I don't really want to change hoops either, as I like seeing programs like ours playing a number of other quality non-con teams each year, which is only a plus come March. Conference schedule is tough enough without making it 20 or 22 games.

I'll agree this is all somewhat tricky, as we all still want to see the Big 12 be a relevant league. I think this is a good start, and I'm not opposed to maybe adding a couple more teams in the future. A USF would certainly be a good travel partner for UCF, and they are a much bigger school than many think. Another western school would be a good plus for BYU as well. RCJH!

Armen Kurdian 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I agree on scheduling, you can't just play one non-conf game, that's simply not enough diversity of schedule by which the conference can be assessed. Three games is the minimum you need, otherwise, only playing w/in your conf is just relativism. Plus, that may get boring not playing anyone new.

Karen Mansfield-Stewart 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Looking back, Texas was the main destabilizer in the first realignment mess which led to the losses of the MU, NU, TAM, & CU schools. Then, 10 years later, Texas was the main destabilizer in this year's realignment mess and the loss of OU.

I hate to lose another founding member of the Big 8 and Big 12 in OU; but FUT. I won't miss them.

Rodney Crain 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Especially NU, they left because of Texas.

Jeff Coffman 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I wish the announcement was that KU was leaving the Big 12, yes it is exciting to have some new teams, but to have a 25 mm versus a 50 mm payroll will come back to haunt us soon.

We also just gave OU and UT an out, because they didn't vote to let those teams in and now their GOR just went down, so the payouts instead of nearing $80mm will go down to $57mm to leave, before their negotiations begin.

Rodney Crain 9 months, 4 weeks ago

Excellent News!

This was clearly the best way out of this mess. Hate all the travel, but our choices were limited. We had very little hope any other conference would merge or even add a team to theirs. The Tri pack handshake was a quick, clear move and a good idea. We needed to act quickly as well.

Is it less money? Sure, but what were the alternatives? There were none. When OK and TX left so did our ability to increase or keep the same dollars. The math just did not work. At least we add some good media markets.

I think we should update the B12 logo, have a jet streaking across the logo, so we honor all the travel reward miles we will earn. :)

For those poor souls still pining for something different, I suggest you get on board with this. If you must still post on alternatives ideas on the conferences, please start your post with - THIS IS NEVER GOING TO HAPPEN NOW BUT ... This will help us save time in reading these useless posts. Thank you in advance for your consideration.

It will be interesting to see what the next few years will look like.

Bring on Coastal Carolina!!!

Brian Skelly 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I think if the "Sexy Six" in the Pac-12 end up going to the Big 10 eventually (USC,UCLA,Cal,Stanford,Oregon,Washington) it wouldn't be a total stretch to add 4 of those teams. Especially ones that have been here before (Colorado), one with an immediate and massive in-state rival (Utah) and ones that have been bantered about before (ASU,Arizona).

Of course this is pure banter and speculation. But I thought that it's interesting that Bowlsby simply mention it doesn't mean expansion is done. At last for now.

Mike Barnhart 9 months, 4 weeks ago

This is headed to two mega conferences. The Big10 is going to get paranoid and impatient. The invitation will go out to North Carolina and Clemson. At that point, the ACC will be on par with the Big12. The only domino left to fall will be USC.

Rodney Crain 9 months, 3 weeks ago

Don't hold your breath on the B10 getting paranoid.

Spencer Goff 9 months, 4 weeks ago

I love that we poached from an ESPN held commodity.

Robert Brock 9 months, 3 weeks ago

The conference has lost CU, NU, MU, and now OU and UT - all flagship schools - and is adding Houston and Central Florida.

KU needs to find a better home.

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