Paul Finebaum analyzes Bryce Young’s debut for Alabama, and shares his top four picks after the first weekend of college football. (1:07).
On Friday, the Big 12 chancellors and presidents voted to accept BYU and Cincinnati into the conference.
The Big 12 stated that the four schools had been approved unanimously by their eight remaining members. Each board will formally accept Friday.
This move comes less two months after Big 12 cofounders Oklahoma, Texas and Texas announced that they would join SEC by July 1, 2025. The decision leaves the Big 12's future in jeopardy. Officials from the Big 12 quickly formed a subcommittee to restore the league's integrity. It found that UCF, Cincinnati and Houston were the best choices. These schools officially expressed their desire to join the conference after the Big 12 waited until now.
BYU made a statement announcing that it would join the conference for the 2023-24 season. BYU is not a football-independent college, so the Cougars will continue competing in the WCC up until then.
AAC bylaws require that schools give notice for 27 months before they leave, and then pay a $10,000,000 buyout fee. Although it would seem unlikely that the 2023 season will be joined, some sources claim it is possible. A quicker exit, with a greater buyout, is always possible. It is possible that the league could temporarily grow to 14 teams if these schools join before Oklahoma or Texas leave.
In late July, Texas and OU issued a joint statement stating that they plan to stay in the Big 12 until June 30, 2025 when the current Big 12 media rights agreement expires. However, it is possible for schools to try to leave sooner. To break the agreement, each university would be required to pay a penalty between $75 million and $80 million.
The depleted AAC will likely look for new members as it shrinks to eight schools following the departures of the Big 12. The conference has not made any announcements about the teams it will pursue, but the Mountain West's top teams, like Boise State or the Sun Belt, are likely targets.
Sun Belt Conference commissioner Keith Gill released a statement Friday to support his league's position.
He stated that the Sun Belt Conference couldn't have been better positioned for this moment, as conferences shift across conferences. "We are stronger than ever before. The Sun Belt FBS conference is the best in the country for non-autonomy. Two teams were ranked in the preseason polls by us, making us the only non-A5 conference. Last year, we finished with two teams ranked at the final CFP. We also led FBS in postseason winning percentage for the past five years.
Gill stated that she spoke with conference CEOs and ADs about the recent realignment in FBS conferences. This puts us in an advantageous position to allow our programs to flourish. "If we find a school that is valuable to the Sun Belt, we will definitely consider them for membership during this process. We are proud of the quality of our schools and take pride in our conference.