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FROM THE CHEAP SEATS – Will the Big 12 have 16 teams?

On July 30, The University of Oklahoma and the University of Texas both accepted invitations to join the Southeastern Conference (SEC), which means they’ll be leaving the Big 12 Conference for the mounds of money that SEC membership will provide them. This also means that the SEC will become the first Super Conference in college athletics, becoming the first conference to have 16 teams.

Both schools told the Big 12 that they would honor their current commitment through June of 2025. Each school would have to pay a penalty of around $75 million to the Big 12 if they leave the conference early. It would not surprise me one bit if they pay the fee and leave before 2025.Big 12

Speculation immediately began swirling about the demise of the Big 12 and what would happen to the remaining schools. Some had Kansas, Iowa State and Oklahoma State going to the Big 10. Some had Kansas State, Kansas, Oklahoma State and Texas Tech going to the Pac 12.

Not so fast! The Big 12 presidents and chancellors got together and decided to expand rather than split up. They then extended invitations to Houston, Central Florida, Cincinnati and BYU to join the Big 12. All four schools accepted and now the Big 12 conference will be back up to 12 teams. BYU will join the league for 2023-2024 season and the other three programs will join no later than July 1, 2024. Could this give the Big 12 conference 14 teams for a short period of time? Theoretically, yes, but I expect the Big 12 to lower the exit fees for Oklahoma and Texas around this time allowing them to leave early.

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I’m tuning Oklahoma and Texas out for the rest of the time that they’re in the Big 12. I’m encouraged that the Big 12 went out and added the teams they did but they said they might not be finished yet. We’ll see. Each of the schools they added will allow the Big 12 to enter new recruiting grounds.

The city of Houston is a hotbed of football talent. Sure, Big 12 teams will still be going up against the likes of Texas and Texas A&M, but I expect some Houston recruits will find their way to Big 12 rosters. Cincinnati is a huge untapped market for the Big 12 but they’ll be going against the Big 10, particularly Ohio State. Central Florida has had great success and there is a lot of talent in Florida. BYU has a national following and that should help in recruiting as well.

The important thing to remember about the addition of these schools and their recruiting grounds is the fact that more eyes will be focused on the Big 12, something that I’m sure will come up when the Big 12 negotiates a new television contract within the next couple of years.

I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about the changes that are coming. Now the question is, how can we get ESPN’s College Gameday pregame show to Lawrence?

–Rob Mooney, Metro Voice sports writer