For the Big 12’s eight remaining schools, it’s worth it for them to keep the conference intact even if they lose distribution revenue by adding four schools.
Why? Keeping or gaining Power 5 status is on the line.
After all, “Everything is better when you’re in the Power 5,” TCU Chancellor Victor Boschini recently pointed out, “except parking.”
At the Texas state senate hearing, existing Big 12 university presidents and athletic directors almost seemed more concerned about losing Power 5 status than losing the Big 12. They said it helps everything from athletic department revenue, to recruitment, to marketing the entire school. Not to mention, Power 5 conferences get preferential treatment in the NCAA’s governance structure.
Given all these perks, it’s no surprise Big 12 schools are desperate to keep the conference going.
As for the conference’s new schools, It’s “a huge brand win for them” to join the Big 12, Weaver said.
The AAC has tried to convince its peers it’s as good as a Power conference, but that clearly wasn’t enough for Houston, UCF, and Cincinnati. AAC Commissioner Mike Aresco released a statement saying in part: “Today’s news confirms what we have said all along regarding our status as a power conference. The irony that three of our schools are being asked to take the place of the two marquee schools which are leaving the Big 12 is not lost on us.”
But during a press conference, Houston president Renu Khator specifically expressed excitement that the school had achieved Power 5 status.
For Cincinnati and UCF in particular, there’s a major football advantage that comes with that brand prowess. Last year, many believed the Bearcats — undefeated until the Peach Bowl — were snubbed when they didn’t receive a bid to the College Football Playoff. Critics suggested the team would have gotten in if they were part of a Power 5 conference.
A similar controversy took place with the Knights in 2017, when the team completed an undefeated season and crowned themselves national champions despite not receiving a CFP bid. The NCAA then awarded UCF a national title alongside Alabama.
Now, with CFP expansion reportedly stalled, these schools have clearly taken their football futures into their own hands.