It’s no secret that there has been a consistent buzz around the Big 12 since the announcement of the additions of UCF, BYU, Houston, and Cincinnati. Expansion of the conference on its own creates excitement as members begin to speculate and wonder what the future will look like in the long term. What about these schools make the future so bright for the conference? Each team has its own unique additions. Let us look at what Cincinnati brings to the Big 12.
Up and Coming Football Program
If there is one thing everyone looks at when it comes to conference realignment, it is football. When it comes to football, Cincinnati has a lot to bring to the table. Over the last five years, Cincinnati has won 9 or more games each season, with their most notable bowl appearance coming in 2021 in the Cotton Bowl against Alabama. They are the only Group of Five school to earn a College Football Playoff spot. Since 2018, Cincinnati has had four seasons with a recruiting class ranking in the top 50, recruiting at a Power Five level in a Group of Five conference. Cincinnati has also made consistent renovations to elevate its football facilities, in 2018-2019 its arena saw an $87 million renovation. In preparation for joining the Big 12, they expect to give their facilities another $6 million facelift.
Competitive Big 3 Potential
While football is often the main focus of conference realignments, it is far from all Cincinnati brings to the table. Cincinnati has the potential to be a competitive school in Football, Men’s Basketball, and Baseball. It’s not breaking news to anyone at this point that the Big 12 is the toughest, most competitive basketball conference from top to bottom in the nation. With the addition of Cincinnati, the conference’s basketball strength only grows. The program has not seen a losing season since its 2007-2008 season and has nine tournament appearances in that timeframe. One could argue that when it comes to baseball the Bearcats leave something to be desired on the competitive front. However, the program has still been able to produce major league talent, including Josh Harrison recently called up by the Phillies. Once joining a Power 5 conference, Cincinnati has the potential to build a solid program that could add depth to Big 12 baseball.
It’s clear, the future is bright for the Big 12 with the additions we are to see in the coming year, the added competition and depth will leave little doubt that the Big 12 is a powerhouse conference and will continue to thrive for years to come.