By Marquis Cooley | Sports Editor
In the wake of the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma announcing their departure from the Big 12 to head to the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 created a four person expansion committee that included Baylor’s own Director of Intercollegiate Athletics, Mack Rhoades. The committee got to work quickly and have now reportedly found four teams they want to add to the conference by the end of the week: Brigham Young University, the University of Houston, the University of Central Florida and the University of Cincinnati. While none of these schools can replace what UT and OU brought to the Big 12, in terms of revenue, they would all be great additions.
Brigham Young University
BYU seems like a team that just fits the Big 12. Being a private Christian university makes them similar to Baylor and Texas Christian University. Also, by being the largest school associated with the Mormon church, they bring a massive nationwide fan base with them. In a neutral-site game against Arizona last Saturday night at Allegiant Stadium, home to the Las Vegas Raiders, 54,541 fans packed the arena. That showing was the largest crowd ever for a football game in Nevada, and the second largest crowd for any team sporting event in the state behind the 2021 CONCACAF Gold Cup Final. Why does that matter? A vast majority of those fans were BYU fans. Having a school that can fill up arenas is important when trying to get new TV deals, which the Big 12 will have to do when their current deal ends in 2025. And as an added bonus, the Big 12 will also be getting BYU’s famous halftime shows.
University of Houston
With UT on its way out the door, it’d be good for the Big 12 to add another Texas school to take its place, which is where UH comes in. UH is the third-largest school in Texas behind Texas A&M and UT, with over 46,000 students. While their football program hasn’t had much success in recent years, their basketball team made a Final Four appearance last season. Also, it would be good for the Big 12 to have a school within the Houston market because the more recruits UH can retain within their city, and keep away from other conferences, the better the Big 12 will be. However, it will be confusing having two schools that go by the Cougars.
University of Central Florida
While UCF may not want Alabama anymore, it still has a good football program and is one of the largest universities in the nation. The increasing alumni base at UCF could produce increasing TV audiences for the Big 12, especially in a big market like Orlando. Big 12 members will also be happy to have the increased recruiting visibility in Florida that would come from playing UCF multiple times a year. UCF isn’t just a football school either – they were No. 57 in the 2020–21 all-sports standings, ahead of many Power 5 programs, including some in the Big 12.
University of Cincinnati
Coming off a New Year’s Six bowl birth last season, and a 32–6 record over their last 38 games, Cincinnati’s football program is at an all-time high and would be a great addition to the conference. Cincinnati’s basketball program has also had some success, appearing in the NCAA tournament every year from 2011-2019. Similar to UCF, Cincinnati is a program on the rise that could make for some exciting matchups and fun rivalries within the Big 12.
Each of the four schools will bring something different to the Big 12, all of which will help them move on from OU and UT. While there is a chance the Big 12 might want to add two more schools to the expansion list, these four schools will look to join the conference by 2023.