The Big 12 is doing all it can to retain Oklahoma and Texas as members of the conference but it seems very unlikely that they will remain a part of the league's future. If they do depart for the SEC, they are going to have to act fast to keep the remaining eight members from searching for a new conference to call home. The best way to do that is to reach out to other schools to gauge their interest in joining the league.
Which schools could be on the radar for the Big 12? Here are a few that come to mind:
Houston makes the most sense. It's a geographical fit and their facilities are second to none. Baylor and TCU have both proven that smaller Texas schools can still have a lot of success in this league and considering the winning history the Cougars have had in both football and basketball, it should strengthen the value of the conference over time. From the football side of things, they have a head coach, Dana Holgorsen, who has navigated a team (WVU) from the Big East to the Big 12 which would be a similar jump if Houston were to get that call.
Like Houston, BYU adds value in both football and basketball. They just produced the No. 2 overall pick in this year's NFL Draft in QB Zach Wilson and are always a competitive team. The Cougars seem long overdue to join a Power Five conference and if the Big 12 folds or passes on BYU, I wouldn't be surprised to see the PAC-12 eventually bring them along.
Luke Fickell has done a terrific job of building back up the Cincinnati football program and it is widely viewed as one of the best among the Group of Five. Of course, competing for recruits with Ohio State isn't easy but being a member of the Big 12 could help win more of those battles. Cincinnati and Ohio State aren't necessarily in a ton of recruiting battles but a Big 12 membership would allow them to be in the mix for some of the same kids Ohio State pursues. This would also give West Virginia an east coast partner.
Bringing in Central Florida would be purely a football move. The Golden Knights have had some decent basketball teams over the years but they would have a challenge competing with the current Big 12 schools. Florida is a recruiting hotbed and the Big 12 has been wanting to tap into the Sunshine State for years. This would not only help schools like WVU, UCF, and Cincinnati but even some of the Texas schools as well.
Obviously, this is a long shot but who knows? A&M seems to be absolutely LIVID with the SEC with Texas and Oklahoma set to likely join the conference. Texas A&M AD Ross Bjork stated at SEC media days that they want to be the only school from the state of Texas to be in the SEC which gives them an identity. I highly, highly doubt that A&M would ever leave the SEC even if Texas joined but there's always a chance that they would consider a move back to the Big 12. Plus, if the Big 12 wants to survive and remain a Power Five conference, they need to add a big name. Texas A&M is probably the only big name out there that could be an option.
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