ORLANDO, FL – Before their 36-31 instant classic primetime win over visiting Boise State, the biggest news, other than the two-plus hour weather delay was UCF moving to the Big 12.
According to sources within the program, UCF, along with fellow American Athletic Conference members Cincinnati, Houston and independent BYU are rumored to be recipients of official invites from the Dallas-based Big 12.
If rumors of a jump from the Group of Five AAC to the sans Oklahoma-Texas Big 12 are indeed true, then the Big 12 ironically gains four programs on the rise in offsetting the departures of big-name blueblood brands in the Sooners and Longhorns.
In landing UCF, BYU, Cincinnati, and Houston, the Big 12 will expand into the heart of B1G country in Ohio, giving Cincinnati a heavy recruiting tool to use against in-state rival Ohio State, out west in the Mountain West region thanks to BYU and their rich tradition of quarterbacks dating back to Super Bowl winners in Steve Young, Jim McMahon and 2021 no.2 overall pick of the New York Jets in Zach Wilson.
UCF helps expand the Big 12’s footprint deep into the heart of the SEC, and the longtime nemesis Florida Gators, who are only two hours up the Florida Turnpike and I-75 N in Gainesville.
While the Knights may be the big-name prize for the Big 12, a case could be made for Houston being the hidden gem in the much-beleaguered conference’s treasure trove. Thanks to a quality football program on the rise, and a top-ranked basketball program that just made it to the Final Four, the Cougars would be the one school that would bolster the Big 12 in two sports.
Football-wise, the addition of Houston to an already Texas-based conference, helps programs such as UCF, Cincinnati and BYU recruit the uber-talented greater Houston area, while further encroaching on neighboring SEC West contender, Texas A&M down in College Station and making things more difficult for incoming née member, and long-time 800-pound state gorilla from Austin, in the Texas Longhorns.
Logistically and business-wise, this is a win-win for UCF and the other three schools expected to receive an invite. Can you imagine old rivalries such as Cincinnati-West Virginia getting a boost in the same conference (again), and new potential ones such as BYU vs. UCF, TCU vs. Houston, Baylor vs. Houston or Kansas vs. Cincinnati in hoops, and the always high-scoring teams such as Oklahoma State/Baylor vs. UCF in the Bounce House in prime time.
Dear lord. Sign me up!
While it may look dire now, this potential new Big 12, looks to be just as promising, if not more exciting than it did a month ago. Which, in the case of the changing dynamics of college football is a win for everyone.