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Realignment roulette: Big 12 expected to add four new schools

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After a two-month courtship, the Big 12 might have finally found some partners. 

On Friday, the conference is expected to vote via conference call to accept the applications of BYU, Houston, Cincinnati and Central Florida, which applied for membership earlier this week. 

The four applicants will require approvals from eight of the 10 teams. With all schools except Oklahoma and Texas, who are bolting to the SEC, expected to vote in favor of the expansion.

So what do the schools bring to the Big 12? Here is a breakdown of the four (expected) new members to the conference:

BYU

Location (Population): Provo, Utah (116,618)

Established: Oct. 16, 1875

Type: Private research university sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

Enrollment: 36,024 students

Known for: Arts programs and athletics, nestled below the Wasatch Mountains

Famous alumni: Mitt Romney, Stephenie Meyer and Orson Scott Card

Colors: Blue, royal and white

Mascot: Cougars

Current conference: Independent

Varsity sports: 19

Notable sports figures: Steve Young, Andy Reid and Jack Morris

Greatest sports accomplishment: 1984 NCAA Division 1-A football national champions

Big 12 benefit: BYU boasts one of the nation’s biggest fanbases because of its religious affiliation with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Cougars are also extremely successful and competitive in athletics.

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Cincinnati 

Location (Population): Cincinnati, Ohio (303,940)

Established: 1819

Type: Public research university

Enrollment: 46,798 students

Known for: Fine arts and health master’s programs

Famous alumni: William Howard Taft, Kevin McCollum and Kathleen Battle

Colors: Black and red

Mascot: Bearcats

Current conference: American Athletic Conference

Varsity sports: 16

Notable sports figures: Sandy Koufax, Oscar Robertson and Urban Meyer.

Greatest sports accomplishment: Men’s basketball national champions in 1961 and 1962.

Big 12 benefit: UC’s football squad has re-emerged into national relevance after winning the American Athletic Conference in 2020. Men’s basketball is also a perennial NCAA tournament team.

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UCF

Location (Population): Orange County, Florida (1.393 million)

Established: 1963

Type: Public university

Enrollment: 71,913 (2020)

Known For: Health/Nursing

Famous Alumni: Cheryl Hines, Daniel Tosh and Erika Dunlap

Colors: Black & gold

Mascot: Knights

Current Conference: American Athletic Conference

Varsity Sports: 16

Notable Sports Figures: Daunte Culpepper, Brandon Marshall and Tacko Fall

Greatest Sports Accomplishment: 2017 FBS Football Champions (self-proclaimed)

Big 12 Benefit: The Big 12 is able to tap into a market that they haven’t seen before. Now the whole state of Florida may be tuned into Big 12 games rather than SEC or ACC games. This also opens an avenue for Florida recruits to become more interested in being a Big 12 athlete.

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Houston

Location (Population): Houston, Texas (2.31 million)

Established: 1927

Type: Public university

Enrollment: 46,148

Known For: Business

Famous Alumni: Elizabeth Warren, Jim Parsons and Dennis Quaid

Colors: Red & white

Mascot: Cougars

Current Conference: American Athletic Conference

Varsity Sports: 16

Notable Sports Figures: Hakeem Olajuwon, Clyde Drexler, Tom Landry

Greatest Sports Accomplishment: Three straight Final Four appearances from 1982-1984, also known as the peak of “Phi Slama Jama” 

Big 12 Benefit: With the Longhorns having one foot out the door with the Big 12, this gives the conference a Texas team so there are still three teams in Texas. Houston would be the biggest market in the Big 12, which gets more eyes on the conference and potentially more big-time recruits to play for the conference.