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Officially Official: Big 12 expands with addition of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF

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The four schools received their invites Friday morning and wasted little time accepting them, as BYU looks to join the league in 2023 and the remaining three schools by 2024.

NCAA Football: Big 12 Media Days
Hey, BYU, Cincy, Houston, and UCF, we want YOU to join the Big 12 and (hopefully) save this league (for a few years at least!).
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Our (weeks) long college football nightmare is over, as Friday marked the beginning of a new era and a new Big 12, one that remarkably looks like will actually have 12 teams when the dust settles.

Early Friday morning, BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF were issued formal invitations to join the Big 12 Conference, marking the first foray into the Power Five for each. The former makes the leap from independent to fully vested status, while the latter three jumped ship from the AAC — formerly the strongest G5 conference in the country — to the greener pastures, and deep pockets, of the P5.

While the last two months have brought much hand-wringing over whether the conference could survive post-Oklahoma and Texas, Friday was a celebration: though the remaining eight schools certainly looked for life rafts to jump ship in July when this news first broke, they solidified their status as teammates once realignment options were exhausted and did the next best thing they could for the greater good.

In the official release, it was pointed out that the vote was unanimous by the eight continuing members, but did not explicitly state whether Texas and OU were a part of the vote and voted no or not included. I am going to guess it was the latter, as they have no real motivation to stir sh*t up on their way out of town.

The Big 12 Conference Board of Directors this morning voted to extend membership invitations to Brigham Young University, the University of Central Florida, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Houston to join the Conference. Today’s actions were in accordance with Big 12 Conference Bylaw 1.5.2.b.3 requiring an affirmative vote of a supermajority of Directors, and was approved unanimously by the eight continuing members.

While there is still much to be determined, we did learn a few things Friday, led by the proclamation that the conference would return to a division structure as opposed to the round-robin, “One True Champion” structure that cost the league at least one playoff berth but made for a very fun schedule.

We also discovered that the BYU-TCU rivalry, born in the Mountain West, is as strong as ever:

Speaking of new rivalries, UCF has quickly targeted our friends from Iowa State, and WRNL is not having any of it:

Of course, in light of the alternative...

As far as the official stance of each new member school? They couldn’t be more excited.

The strength of this conference top to bottom will be as strong, in my opinion, as the Pac-12 and ACC. While there isn’t a “blue blood” or a dominant program, the new media deal for the 12 team version of this league shouldn’t be a major drop-off; while Texas and OU bring major eyeballs, so does BYU, and the markets of Houston and Orlando are significant. Anything in the mid-$20 million range would be considered a win, for sure. On the field, this is a much better product in my opinion; the Sooners have dominated, winning six straight titles, and without them lording over things, it’s a wide open field that has several strong programs to compete for titles year in and year out. That has to be exciting for the Iowa States, TCUs, and Oklahoma States of the world, and gives hope to WVU, Baylor, Kansas State, and others, who can see a much more clearly defined path to the top. That’s great news for the four new members as well; BYU’s jump should be the easiest, while Cincy and UCF have built ranked programs at the G5 level and come to the table with a resume not all that different than those of TCU and WVU when they were invited a decade ago. And hell, it’s not like Texas was propping anybody up on the field lately anyway.

If we start talking basketball, you could argue it’s a deeper, stronger, more terrifying league than it already was. Baseball should be great as well, and the “non-revenue” sports of the four new schools offer plenty of positive talking points. The actual athletics product should be outstanding, even if the rest of the P5 turns their nose up at the names on the jerseys in the national conversation.

Last but not least? The Big 12 might not stop at 12.

“Big 12 sources have said publicly and privately in recent days that the conference is not necessarily done expanding despite formally inviting BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF on Friday.

Any further expansion would most likely come after 2024. Commissioner Bob Bowlsby said Friday that BYU would join the conference in 2023. The other three programs will join “no later than” July 1, 2024.

Sources stressed Boise State and Memphis are among several schools being discussed. It has long been known that Boise State is on the Big 12’s list of potential future additions.”