Football Sports

Roundtable: After Big 12 decision, what’s next?


Cougar fans will have to wait a while longer for their teams to join a Power Five Conference as the Big 12 opts not to expand. | Ajani Stewart/The Cougar

The Cougars saw their chance of getting into the Big 12 dashed this week, but after learning they’ll remain in the AAC for now, what’s next? Our sports staff discusses in this week’s roundtable.

Assistant sports editor Jonathan Valadez

Sure, joining the Big 12 Conference would’ve been good for the school, but the conference’s decision not to expand isn’t the end of the world.

I don’t want to sound like a spurned lover, but the Big 12 is the most dysfunctional conference among the Power Five. The conference has been losing revenue ground to the Atlantic Coast Conference and the Pacific 12 Conference.

The league has also become less competitive as of late and is in jeopardy of missing the College Football Playoff for the second time in three years.

Not to mention that the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma basically run the conference, so UH would not get much say in conference decisions even if they have been accepted.

The University has accomplished so much in the past few years without the reputation of a Power Five conference. It will likely to continue that trend with the Big 12’s verdict.

Plus, schools within the American Athletic Conference are in good hands with Commissioner Mike Aresco at the helm. He has made it a point to try to get the NCAA to consider adding the conference to the Power Five.

After all, the conference is just a year removed from having four football teams in the top 25. It has two this year, which is just one less than the Big 12.

If anything, this should make the University and its athletic programs compete even harder knowing that the chips continue to stack against them.

Senior staff writer J.D. Smith

Following the announcement Monday that they would not expand, the Big 12 secured its rank as the fifth of the Power Five conferences and signed its own death warrant in the process.

Coming off a year in which they sent a team to the College Football Playoff, the Big 12 may have done irreparable harm to their brand with the constant will-they-or-won’t-they charade.

This is the same conference that in 2014 had to name co-champions all the while promoting its “One True Champion” advertising campaign.

While the decision will most likely hurt the Cougars in the short term, the team now has the opportunity to build its brand as the nation’s top Group of Five school. They will also get to work for a spot in a conference with more stability.

Being invited to the Big 12 would’ve brought in tens of millions to the athletics department compared to the $5 million it currently receives from the American Athletic Conference. This money could’ve been used to pay for the upgraded facilities and an increase to head coach Tom Herman’s contract.

Without those funds, it’s more likely that Herman will be gone in 2017. He might leave for greener pastures in Baton Rouge or Austin.

If that happens, the key for the Cougars will be proving that, while he was here, Herman has built up a program and a culture to continuously fill the stadium and be successful on the field.

If the Cougars can do that, it won’t be long before they join the ranks of the Power Five.

Sports editor Reagan Earnst

Since the Big 12 opened its search for expansion candidates last summer, all who are associated with UH have been anxiously waiting.

The school was considered a virtual lock to join the conference, especially after proving they can compete after beating the University of Oklahoma in the Texas Advocare Kickoff on Sept. 3.

This all came crumbling down Monday when OU President David Boren — not Big 12 Commissioner Bob Bowlsby — announced that the conference agreed “unanimously” to not expand.

A day later, ESPN obtained documents proving that the conference would say that the decision was unanimous — regardless if it was or not. But this is what we have come to expect from this conference.

The outcome is disappointing in the short term, but justice will be served for UH in the long term.

With the addition of the College Football Playoff, we are inevitably heading to four super conferences to accommodate the four playoff spots. When this time comes, I would expect that UH will have at least three offers to pick from.

Although the Cougars are stuck playing largely inferior competition week in and week out for the time being, be patient because they will return to a major conference.

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