Big 12 Could Add Cincinnati, Houston, UCF Before 2023 Football Season

The three AAC imports to the Big 12 Conference — Cincinnati, Houston and UCF — are in the midst of negotiating a settlement agreement that will allow them to join the Big 12 in the summer of 2023, Brett McMurphy reported on Tuesday. The negotiation, if successful, would allow the Big 12 to add three of its incoming marquee programs alongside BYU, an independent which is already scheduled to join the league next year.

Details of the settlement agreement are expected to be between $17 and $20 million, McMurphy reports, a not-insignificant sum, but as Thanos might say …

Timing of the deal here with the soon-to-be former AAC schools may run in conjunction with the AAC’s acquisition of six Conference USA schools already scheduled to join the league on July 1, 2023. If a settlement agreement between the three AAC schools and the AAC cannot be reached, Houston, UCF and Cincinnati would join the Big 12 in 2024.

Which seems unlikely.

One thing looming over all of this of course is the imminent departure of OU and Texas to the SEC. That move is scheduled for 2025. However, an expedited acquisition of Cincy, Houston and UCF may soften Big 12 powers that be to negotiate with the Sooners and Longhorns on their own early exit as part of a settlement.

The Big 12 really is not inclined to negotiate with the two schools that singlehandedly took a sledgehammer to the league, of course, so who knows exactly how this will all go down. Either way, it seems we’re headed — if only temporarily — for a 14-team Big 12 in 2023.

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