As soon as they found out Texas and Oklahoma would be leaving for the SEC, the Big 12 set its sights on expanding to ensure that it would remain a Power 5 conference and maintain a foothold in the national picture. They hope that they accomplished that on Friday when they announced that BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston would be joining them in the near future.
The announcement you’ve all been waiting for…
🚨 Big 12 Extends Membership Invitationshttps://t.co/YLZFxp0N48
— Big 12 Conference (@Big12Conference) September 10, 2021
The plan is for BYU to join the conference in 2023 while Houston, Cincinnati, UCF will join no later than 2024. Those three schools will potentially join a year earlier if possible. The goal for the Big 12 was to make sure that they weren’t down to 8 schools if Texas and Oklahoma decided to leave for the SEC earlier than expected.
BYU will enter the Big 12 in 2023. Houston, Cincinnati, UCF will be in by 2024, possibly as early as 2023. As we explained last week, the Big 12 did not want to potentially be down to 8 if OU and Texas left earlier.
— Bruce Feldman (@BruceFeldmanCFB) September 10, 2021
The move allows the Big 12 to maintain a good footprint in Texas as well as expand its reach to Florida, Ohio, and the Mountain Time Zone, making it a bit more of a national conference from that standpoint. However, the conference’s ability to compete with the likes of the SEC, ACC, Big Ten, and Pac-12 remains to be seen, especially when it comes to getting teams in the College Football Playoff.
Since 2015, only four Group of Five teams have finished within the top-12 of the Final AP Poll. They are the four teams joining the Big 12.
2017 UCF #6
2020 Cincinnati #8
2015 Houston #8
2020 BYU #11
2018 UCF #11 pic.twitter.com/Kzt5h7ZPz1
— CBS Sports HQ (@CBSSportsHQ) September 10, 2021
The college football world, including fans and media, had some strong reactions to the news. There were plenty of jokes, especially when it comes to the Big 12 finding a way to survive and whether or not these four schools will make or break the conference in the national discussion.
The new Big 12 will be pretty fun. Pretend it’s not “the Big 12” made-for-TV lost-and-found, and just take it as a pretty good league that won’t have a dominant team and should be open season every year. That’s fun!
— Alex Kirshner (@alex_kirshner) September 10, 2021
Gus Malzahn got $20M buyout & an easier path to the CFB Playoff with UCF joining the Big 12.
My man is out there playing life chess pic.twitter.com/tpYEbgFWzz
— Peter Burns (@PeterBurnsESPN) September 10, 2021
The AAC: *loses 3 teams to the Big 12
Conference USA: pic.twitter.com/ocHg9bJwdT
— THE Gentleman (@Abovethelaw187) September 10, 2021
If Big 12 is diabolical, league could create divisions final 2 years in 2023-24 putting OU & UT in same division (so they can’t meet in champ game) & then get rid of divisions when OU/UT leave to then guarantee top 2 teams play in Big 12 title game
— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) September 10, 2021
Others wondered whether there were better options out there instead of the four schools selected.
i may be missing something, but memphis seems like a better option for the big 12 than ucf. https://t.co/mCn5Y9E0rb
— bomani (@bomani_jones) September 10, 2021
And of course, there had to be some basketball considerations, too.
From a hoops standpoint, the Big 12 getting Houston, BYU, Cincinnati and UCF is a nice save after losing Texas and Oklahoma.
Houston has been terrific under Kelvin Sampson, BYU is a national program, Cincinnati should get back to relevance under Wes Miller and UCF is solid.
— Jeff Goodman (@GoodmanHoops) September 10, 2021
The Big 12’s big experiment begins in a few years. In the meantime, it should be a fun and awkward time hanging out with Texas and Oklahoma.