Big 12 expansion: What do BYU, Cincinnati, Central Florida and Houston bring to the table?

·3 min read

The Big 12 has been in scrambling mode since the announcement that Texas and Oklahoma planned to leave the league for better financial pastures in the Southeastern Conference.

That forced the Big 12 to think of alternative plans or risk dissolving altogether. USA TODAY Sports confirmed the Big 12 has settled on Cincinnati, Houston and Central Florida of the American Athletic Conference and BYU.

The AAC schools must give the league 27 months notice and pay a $10 million fee to leave.

The four teams may be able to join the Big 12 in two years, making it a 14-team conference if Oklahoma and Texas stays until their grant-of-rights agreement expires.

Here is what each of the four teams bring to the table in a new-look Big 12 Conference, which would like to maintain its status as a Power Five league with full autonomy.

Houston

Houston's expansive recruiting pipeline is an attractive sell in the nation's fourth-largest city. With the Cougars' competitive football team and rising basketball program, which just went to the Final Four, Houston adds instant value and credibility to a league that will sorely need it once the top dogs go to the SEC.

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Cincinnati

Primarily known as a basketball school with a rich tradition, Cincinnati's football program has made strides and currently is ranked in the top 10 in the USA TODAY Sports AFCA Coaches Poll. The Bearcats could also crash the College Football Playoff if they go undefeated.

The school is used to playing musical chairs when it comes to conference realignment, having been part of Conference USA, the Big East and the Mid-American Conference. The media market for Cincinnati is ranked No. 36, which is bigger than markets near Iowa State, Baylor and Texas Tech.

BYU

BYU is currently operating as an independent in football so it doesn't have to do much in terms of settling or paying fees to join the league. But that may not be the case in the other sports which are members of the West Coast Conference.

BYU athletics doesn't play on Sundays, but that can be an easy fix in terms of work arounds in scheduling. They do have an issue because they have games scheduled through 2035 and almost a full slate of games contracted from now until 2024. If nothing else, BYU also brings a broad and passionate fan base and has shown the ability to adapt to the ever-changing landscape in college athletics.

Central Florida

Central Florida has the nation's largest undergraduate enrollment. With that many students on campus and the rich recruiting land in the Sunshine state, it is possible they could be competing for league titles in football as soon as Oklahoma and Texas exit stage left.

The football program, with new coach Gus Malzahn, is already making noise this season, after their victory over Boise State.

The Orlando television market is intriguing as well, because it's the nation's largest without the value of having a National Football League team. If administrators were concerned about the educational value of these schools, UCF's academics and massive budget satisfies the Big 12's needs.

Follow Scooby Axson on Twitter @ScoobAxson

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Big 12 expansion: What do BYU, Cincinnati, UCF and Houston offer?