The BIG XII expansion gained significant steam yesterday. They opened its doors to four new teams in a move that saw the conference add Brigham Young University (BYU), the University of Central Florida (UCF), the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Houston. The four new schools will become members no later than the 2024-25 athletic year. BYU, an independent, could move to the BIG XII whenever it chooses, but indicated they would move alongside the other three schools.
The move leaves the American Athletic Conference (AAC) without three of its strongest teams from the past decade. All three of Houston, UCF and Cincinnati have made New Year’s Six bowl games in the past five years.
The hope is that the addition of these four teams will counter the departure of Oklahoma and Texas to the SEC. The BIG XII realistically only had two options: expand or collapse, and this move gives the conference the best chance of keeping its Power 5 (P5) status going forward.
Who are the Schools invited to the BIG XII Expansion?
Looking at the programmes, the BIG XII got the best of the bunch. UCF is a huge school with around 72,000 students in one of the biggest football states in the country.
Houston is a big TV market and has a really strong recent history. Their football team beat Florida State 38-24 in the 2015 NY6 Peach Bowl. Their basketball team also made the Final Four of the NCAA tournament in 2021.
Cincinnati brings a strong basketball pedigree as well, and their football team is currently ranked in the top 10.
Finally, BYU is a massive national brand with fans in every state across the country. They wield some serious power athletically and are not short of investment.
A Game Changer for the College Football Landscape?
So what does it mean for the landscape of college football. The Athletic’s Andy Staples commented that this move will create a power 2, a middle class tier featuring the ACC, PAC 12 and BIG XII, then the G5. In a world where the College Football Playoff is expanded to 12 teams, you have to assume the SEC and BIG10 will be licking their lips with the strength they have in their respective conferences.
For the BIG XII, this could actually be a great move for its middle class. Games like Baylor v Kansas State now carry much more significance in conference, and nationally. Viewers will be treated to a genuine conference title race year in, year out. For the previous six years the only interesting race has been to see who will lose to Oklahoma in the conference title game.
Is this the end of the story? Well, probably not. The trickle down effect means the AAC now has to go looking for new members. Other conferences might also look at the remaining AAC powers like Memphis, SMU and USF as ripe for the picking.
Stay tuned people. This one isn’t over yet.
– Jake @dynastybritt