College Football Preview

Big 12 honing in on four schools as possible replacements for OU, UT

UCF and Houston, as members of the AAC, would require 27 months of notice and a $10 million exit feeGETTY IMAGES

The Big 12′s plan for "life after Texas and Oklahoma is taking shape," and at the moment, it would "include BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston as new members," according to Chuck Carlton of the DALLAS MORNING NEWS. Those four schools have "emerged as the frontrunners." Big 12 ADs met Tuesday and Wednesday in Dallas-Ft. Worth "to discuss options." The timetable remains "fluid with nothing definitive." UCF, Cincinnati and Houston are members of the AAC, which requires "27 months of notice and a $10 million exit fee." One source indicated that approving four schools for membership could "happen by the end of the school year in May -- if not sooner" (DALLAS MORNING NEWS, 9/3). In Houston, Duarte & Smith report there is a "formal vote planned for next week," and support to add UH has "increased in the past week." The addition of the three schools would "allow the Big 12 to remain involved in the Houston television market, extend its reach to Florida and add a Cincinnati program that begins this season in the football top 10" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/3).

DRAFT ORDER? In Houston, Brian Smith writes it would "be pathetic if the Big 12 let UH down again." UH joining the Big 12, five years after the Big 12 decided it was "too big and too strong for a growing university near the heart of the fourth-largest city in America?" The "reeling" Big 12 "needs UH right now" (HOUSTON CHRONICLE, 9/3). Various Big 12 reporters chimed in on who they would take. The K.C. Star's Kellis Robinett writes Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby’s "first call" should "go to Cincinnati." The Bearcats "check all the boxes in ways the other three schools don’t." Robinett: "Value? Check! New TV market? Check! Top 10 football team? Check!" The Star's Blair Kerkhoff writes Houston should "be a priority," as football and men’s basketball "have tradition." It is also "the third largest university in Texas." The Ft. Worth Star-Telegram's Drew Davison writes BYU brings "immediate value to the league given their strong following and TV numbers." After that, Davison would "go with an order of Cincinnati, Houston and UCF" (WICHITA EAGLE, 9/3). ESPN’s Tony Kornheiser said BYU “always makes sense. They’ve got a passionate fan base (while) Houston is in the geographic area.” Kornheiser: “The Big 12 is desperate” (“PTI,” ESPN, 9/2).

FIRST DOMINO: SEC Network’s Paul Finebaum said adding UCF, Houston, BYU and Cincinnati “salvages the Big 12 to a degree” and also “could expedite the departure of Texas and Oklahoma” to the SEC. ESPN’s Matt Barrie said those four teams can’t “replace those brands” of Texas and Oklahoma, “but you do get a couple of teams that together can stop that bleeding just enough to still compete and field a pretty competitive conference” (“The Paul Finebaum Show,” SEC Network, 9/2). 

In last night's SBJ College newsletter, Michael Smith lists several things he's watching around Big 12 expansion.

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