And the dominoes have reportedly begun to fall. A few minutes ago, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported that the University of Cincinnati has officially applied for membership to join the Big 12 Conference. This news comes a day after the Big 12 presidents reportedly met in anticipation of impending applications but did not vote on anything.
BREAKING: University of Cincinnati has officially submitted its application to join the Big 12 Conference, according to two university sources. https://t.co/YfRc2ncAM4— Enquirer (@Enquirer) September 8, 2021
Given that these sort of applications don’t typically happen unless the answer to the question is already known, this would appear to be the first step in what is likely a formality at this point, but it is an important one. Next up would be the other three remaining expansion targets—BYU, UCF, and Houston—which are also anticipated to apply this week and, possibly, be formally accepted. The rumor has been that we could know more by Friday of this week, and I wonder if this news won’t break the dam on more reports of more applications coming.
The biggest issue going forward is going to be timing. As multiple parties have reported, the AAC, current home to Cincy, UCF, and Houston, has a 27-month notice requirement in its bylaws for parties seeking to leave the conference. On its face that does not comport with the Big 12’s probable intent to have the four new entrants begin play in the 2023 season, which is approximately 23 months away. BYU has a similar problem in that it, as an independent, has to schedule full seasons into the future and thus has games going forward that need to bought out, canceled, or rescheduled to make way for a conference slate. But in reality, as we already know all too well or will soon learn with respect to OU/UT, these things tend to get negotiated away, and there are few problems in realignment that money can’t fix. In all likelihood the announcements now will presage movement prior to that 2023 season that appears to be the target, though I wouldn’t expect any definitive announcements about that until it is decided. The last thing the Big 12 wants is a lawsuit against it from the AAC.
Assume Cincy has applied to the Big 12—who will be next?
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