It’s expected that this week the Big 12 Conference will be receiving applications from four new members. BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston are expected to apply to join the league in a deal that could be finalized by the end of the week.
And while there’s still some uncertainty around what this means for the conference and all of college football in the years to come, the move is getting positive reviews from many, including Oklahoma State head coach Mike Gundy.
Gundy said on Tuesday, “People see BYU as a Power Five team. … See that logo, they don’t really know they’re an independent, and think they’re tied into a Power Five conference. Central Florida has 71,000 students and they’re in a heck of a television market, and they have a heck of a recruiting base and they’ve played good football now,” Gundy said. “Then you have Cincinnati, who has a a big television market. There’s a lot of people that live in that part of the country. And that logo has grown in popularity in the last few years, and they’re winning.”
It could wind up being a fascinating few years in the Big 12 as the league could possibly have 14 teams in 2023 and 2024 when the AAC teams, plus BYU join, and Texas and Oklahoma, who are legally bound to the conference until 2025. Of course, Oklahoma and Texas could leave early, if they want to pay the $80 million exit fee, but so far neither school has shown an inclination to do just that.
For the Big 12, it’s been one of the rockiest stretches of the conference’s 25-year existence. In fact, it wasn’t really known until two weeks ago, when the Pac-12 announced it would not seek to expand, that the Big 12 was viewed as having a viable future.
This news came on the heels of the “alliance” formed between the ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12, which led many to believe that with the Pac-12 announcing it would not expand, the other two Power 5 Conferences would also avoid the temptation, at least for now.
But the Big 12 has life, it has a future, and by many estimations, including Mike Gundy’s, that future is brighter than many in national media want to admit.