Cincinnati, Houston and UCF negotiating to join Big 12 ahead of schedule

Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are looking to join the Big 12 a year early by way of a settlement.

With BYU slated to join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are looking to come aboard at the same time by negotiating a buyout settlement with the AAC.

Brett McMurphy of The Action Network reported “Cincinnati, Houston and UCF are negotiating a settlement in the ‘$17 million to $20 million range’, which would allow the schools to exit the American Athletic Conference early and join the Big 12 on July 1, 2023.”

With the way the AAC bylaws are constructed, schools that are leaving the Group of Five conference must give the league “27 months’ notice and pay a $10 million exit fee.” If Cincinnati, Houston and UCF did not do this, they would not be able to leave the AAC for the Big 12 until July 1, 2024. Since BYU is a national independent in football, the Cougars do not have those limitations.

The Big 12 would be a 14-team league on July 1, 2023 if Oklahoma and Texas do not bolt for the SEC earlier. The Sooners and Longhorns will have to negotiate a massive buyout for them to leave their current conference as well. Conference realignment is happening all over again, as the dominoes will really start to fall 14 months from now. What does this mean for college football?

Settlements are the way to go because who wants to be stuck in place they do not want to be?

Cincinnati, Houston, UCF are negotiating settlement to join Big 12 a year early

With Cincinnati, Houston and UCF going to the Big 12 along with BYU, the AAC is adding Charlotte, FAU, North Texas, Rice, UAB and UTSA. Other Conference USA members in Marshall, Old Dominion and Southern Miss, along with James Madison of the FCS will be going to the Sun Belt. Liberty, Jacksonville State, New Mexico State and Sam Houston State are heading to Conference USA.

Confused and perplexed? Of course, you are. You’re human, and that’s fine. What you really need to know is this. Cincinnati, Houston and UCF going Power Five a year early puts everything else in motion. Their additions to the Big 12 along with BYU will probably allow Oklahoma and Texas to leave for the SEC potentially two years early. The other Group of Five conferences can now backfill.

Ultimately, the Big 12 may take it down a notch in terms of overall national prestige by losing Oklahoma and Texas. However, this league will be utterly fascinating, as it has the chance to be one of the most competitive conferences in college football. With the Big 12’s footprint becoming increasingly national, it is imperative to land the right commissioner to succeed Bob Bowlsby.

Frankly, the sooner Cincinnati, Houston and UCF can get to the Big 12, the better it will all be.

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