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The Definitive Guide to The New Big 12

NCAA Football: Kansas State at Baylor
Nov 19, 2016; Waco, TX, USA; The Big 12 logo on the chains during a game between the Baylor Bears and Kansas State Wildcats at McLane Stadium. Kansas State won 42-21. Mandatory Credit: Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports
Ray Carlin-USA TODAY Sports

So you’ve got some new folks joining your conference? How do you know who to trust? Who to befriend? Who to look out for? Lucky for you, Our Daily Bears has created this guide to help you handle your new conference brethren. Using our expertly crafted information, you’ll have a full understanding of each new school and the city they call home!

Cincinnati Bearcats:

First of all, Cincinnati should have been brought into the Big 12 long ago. It was never fair to leave West Virginia all alone, and Cincy made plenty of sense. But, better late than never. The school was founded all the way back in 1819, and is the second largest university in Ohio, largest university in Ohio that doesn’t start its name with “The”. The Bearcats have a fierce athletic history, with a football program that dates back to 1885.

In fact, Cincy played Miami in 1888 for the first ever intercollegiate game played in Ohio! That’s a long history. More recently, you may remember the Bearcats for being the first Group of 5 school to break into the College Football Playoff, and will likely be the only G5 school with the ability to boast making the 4 team playoff once the expansion to 12 occurs. On the basketball side, Cincy is the TWELFTH winningest team of all time, with over 1800 wins.

They boast 6 Final Fours and 2 National Championships. That history should fit right into the Big 12. As for the city of Cincinnati, it’s the third largest in Ohio, and was the birthplace Neil Armstrong, THE Neil Armstrong. In fact, after landing on the moon, Armstrong came back and taught at the University. The town is also famous for Skyline Chili, which from what we could decipher, is some chili put on top of spaghetti noodles. Both of those things are good, so one can only assume it’s a delicacy that should take the world by storm. So remember, when you visit Cincy on a road trip with your school, think history, space, and culinary excellence.

BYU Cougars:

Brigham Young University, nestled in the beautiful, mountainous landscape of Provo, Utah, was founded in 1875 by Brigham Young himself. The school is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or as others regular refer to them, Mormons.

The school is world renowned, with a global fanbase that could compete with any major college athletic power. And believe it or not, the campus is worldly and well traveled due to the church’s missionary efforts. Almost half of BYU’s students have lived outside the United States, and 65% of students speak at least 2 languages. Language is such a big deal, 63 different languages are taught at the University.

On the field of play, BYU football can hang with the best. They won the 1984 National Championship, and have won 23 Conference Titles, especially amazing considering they’ve been Independent since 2011. Fun Fact, BYU beat their biggest rival in their first ever matchup, knocking off Utah 12-4 in 1896. The basketball team plays in the 19,000 seat capacity Marriott Center, has won 27 Conference Titles and were the NIT champs twice. When it comes to travel though, this is the true gem that BYU offers.

The fourth largest city in Utah, Provo has scenic views that no one in the Big 12 can touch. And, if you ask anyone who’s already visited, the people couldn’t be more friendly. It’s a gem of a city with a great academic and athletic history. Just look at this shoutout they got from a real astronaut up in space!

Houston Cougars:

The Coogs, as they’re known locally, are the largest school in the largest city in Texas. And in a state where everything is bigger, it’s nice to be the biggest. Founded in 1927, Houston is the third largest school in Texas, with over 47,000 students.

Their president, Renu Khator, may be one of the best and brightest university presidents in the country. Her focus has spanned academics and athletics, and she’s fostered growth in both areas that has never been seen at the school.

Mega donor Tilman Fertita is a major supporter of the school and their athletic endeavors, and he owns the Houston Rockets, one of the multiple professional sports team you could also see play if you plan a trip to see your team play the Coogs.

As an athletic department, they’ve been to 6 Final Fours in MBB, they’ve got a Heisman Trophy won by Andre Ware who ran one of the most exciting offenses CFB has ever seen, they won a NY6 Bowl in 2015, and even poached their current football coach from fellow Big 12 school West Virginia. That’s not even mentioning their elite Track and Field squads, Baseball prowess, and pretty much unmatched Golf history, plus we haven’t even mentioned the Phi Slama Jama era, which was one of the greatest CBB teams to ever play. As for the city of Houston?

If you love to eat, you’ll be right at home. Houston boasts one of the greatest food scenes in the entire country. The arts and attractions in town are unmatched across the rest of the Big 12, and there is truly something to do for anyone visiting. A key site you may want to see is Johnson Space Center, home of NASA Mission Control. There’s a reason Houston is known as Space City. The NASA Astronaut Office even announced a new chief in Houston today!

Central Florida Golden Knights:

Last, but certainly not least, are the Central Florida Golden Knights from Orlando, Florida. When we started our research for each of these schools, we googled “‘school’ athletics” and used the Wikis we could find to ensure we gave you the most accurate information. Interestingly, the first question you can see on Google for Central Florida is “is UCF a D1 or D2?”. Strange people are curious about which Mighty Ducks film they prefer, but internet searches are weird.

Central Florida is another storied school, founded all the way back in 1963. But, they didn’t want to get off the ground too quickly, so they officially opened in 1968. Talk about history! As for athletics, well Central Florida is right up there. The Golden Knights used to be in Division III, then Division II, then the FCS, and now they are in the FBS, one of only two schools to ever do that! Believe it or not, they even made the FCS playoffs TWO times. The team has won 6 lower level conference titles. For their MBB team, they’ve made the NCAA tournament 11 times. Six of those were in Division II, but it’s still the NCAA tournament. Academically, Central Florida is a true powerhouse.

They have one of the best hospitality schools in the country, and in our research we’ve found many of their peers refer to them as a “Hilton Night Manager Degree Farm”. And well, Manager is a pretty important title. Now the city of Orlando, home to Disney World! There isn’t a city that does a better job of taxing everything. If you like taxes, you’ll love Orlando. And let’s not forget tolls, pretty much every road has tolls. It’s nice to know you’re supporting the community. And speaking of roads? Interstate-4 runs right through Orlando, and it’s known as the deadliest highway in the country. Not only that, the portion that runs through Orlando is the deadliest part of the deadliest highway!

Orlando is also home to amazing wildlife, like the white ibis. Be careful if you see one though, as 13% of the birds have salmonella. Scientists believe they carry sickness after foraging through Orlando’s soil and water.

As for culture, Orlando has something no other city can claim: they officially killed the Beatles! John Lennon needed to sign official paperwork to legally break up the band, and he did so in Orlando at Disney World’s Polynesian Hotel. What other joining city can say they were part of breaking up arguably the greatest band in history?

Overall, UCF brings a ton to the table, just remember when interacting with them on Twitter to not expect quick replies, as they are only able to use their phones when they get an approved break from their Disney or Hilton supervisor.

There you have it, the definitive breakdown of the new Big 12 joiners. Use this guide to help navigate your way around the new landscape, and you’ll be eating skyline chili in Provo while listening to Houston’s own Beyonce in your luxurious Hilton hotel room.