It looks to be all but solidified that the Big 12 will add BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati, and Houston to the league as soon as 2023.
Brett McMurphy of The Action Network reports that invitations could come as soon as Labor Day on Monday, and that these are the only four schools being considered. BYU’s independent football status means they could be added to the league ahead of the three American Conference schools, who would have a target date of 2023 at the earliest depending on their ability to negotiate an exit.
It seems this is all but a done deal, but the new look Big 12 will be without its two signature schools, and even with the additions the financial haircut coming in terms of media deals will be significant. If OU and UT leave early, the rights deals that expire after the 2025 season anyway will be renegotiated.
And the new deals both short term and long term will have less money. Right now the Big 12 paid each school about $34.5 million for the 2020-21 fiscal year, down from $37.7 million in the last non-Covid-19 season of 2019. This might get halved or more long-term, but the steep exit fees both Oklahoma and Texas will pay to their eight current conference partners will help soften the blow
Moving these four schools in should help stabilize membership and make new media inventory more attractive, but for the schools left behind in the American Conference it could get bleak. The conference media deal they just signed was for $1 billion over 12 years, but that too will need to be contractually renegotiated without three of the largest markets in the league. And there don’t seem to be any potential schools on the landscape that would come close to making up the difference.
One potential option is a national football conference with schools such as Boise State, San Diego State, and others from the Mountain West joining with schools from the AAC, Conference USA, and even the Sun Belt. Finding a home for the other sports would be more of a challenge, but as football is the biggest driver of revenue it might be unwieldy but workable.
As these things tend to do, the biggest conference eats first and then the ripple implications keep going downhill. We’ll see how this shakes out for the rest of college football soon.