Yahoo Sports’ Dan Wetzel and Sports Illustrated’s Pat Forde discuss Houston, UCF, Cincinnati and BYU joining the Big 12 in 2023, and debate which team will have the most early success.
DAN WETZEL: It's official. We had discussed this earlier in past editions. Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida will join the Big 12. They will leave the AAC July 1, 2023, so about one year. So this is going to be the last season of the Big 12 as it is currently constructed.
BYU was already going to join on that date. So we will have this crowded bus station until Texas and Oklahoma leave, if they are actually there in 2023. And my guess is they might be. Certainly looks like it. But Pat, what have you heard on this and what do you take out of it?
PAT FORDE: Yeah. $18 million exit fee for those schools getting out of the AAC but pretty sweetheart payments on that. It's like they got to pay $10 million of it fairly quickly. And then, like the other $8 million can be spread out over 14 years. So they got time to--
DAN WETZEL: Dollar a week for--
Just get a new mattress. Right?
PAT FORDE: Like, basically, it's like you've got a duplex or something where people are moving in before the other people move out. And now, you've got a crowd. And it's going to be a little awkward. And how are you going to share the bathrooms and the kitchen?
You've got Texas and Oklahoma still hanging around. And you've got everybody else coming in. And I totally get why the Big 12 is like, oh, no. We're not letting you out early. We're going to get all the revenue from you. And if you try to leave, we're going to maximize our penalty payments against you because that's what I think you should do if somebody's going to break their contract and abandon your conference and leave it jeopardized.
But you also keep yourself from moving on with what your new iteration is going to be. The sooner everybody moved on, theoretically, would be better. But again, don't blame the Big 12 for absolutely wrenching every last penny you could get out of the Sooners and the Longhorns.
DAN WETZEL: So along those lines, Cincinnati is having an excellent recruiting class. All of them are doing a little bit better than they normally do. Cincinnati is up to number three now. They got a lot of commits. And they know they're not going to last at number three. But their average star ranking and all that kind of projects out to be sort of borderline top 25, which is a significant get for a non-power five school.
PAT FORDE: Dude.
DAN WETZEL: I don't know. Which one of these programs do you think can hit fastest in this jump? Because generally jumping leagues, it's a lot harder than it looks.
PAT FORDE: Yeah, it's tough. I mean, it is harder than perhaps most people think it will be to transition leagues. That's been proven. But I love Cincinnati's chances because the best thing they've done is maintain coaching continuity.
Luke Fickell, to the shock of many, including me, is still there, is still coaching the Bearcats after this just fantastic run that he's had. I mean, it wasn't a one-year blip where they had one great season. He's stacked up three or four good seasons in a row now. So you've got that. You've got a commitment to build a new facility, which they have said they need. And they found a place for it, which is hard to do in downtown Cincinnati.
And then, you've got conference affiliation. And you've got players in the area. You can recruit the Midwest and get some darn good players. You can go into Michigan. You can get people in Ohio. You can go to Pennsylvania and so forth.
So I just think Cincinnati is set up for the long haul to be very, very competitive, as long as they can keep Luke Fickell. And they probably won't keep him forever. I mean, he may have something pop up this year that he goes. But to have kept him this long is an incredible triumph for them.
And we're seeing in the recruiting what the benefits are of having a big NFL class coming off of a breakthrough, pioneering, historic playoff appearance. So it's all momentum at Cincinnati right now.