I know a thing or two about changing conferences. For the last year and change I have been a regular contributor at a little site called Big East Coast Bias. (It covers the Big East conference, a spurned lover of Cincinnati's for those with extremely terrible short term memories.)
This week, I took over as the site manager here at DTD, shifting my allegiance from the Big East to the Big East's cousin, the American Athletic Conference. In less than a month, Cincinnati may be following my lead and jetting off to a new conference.
For the uninitiated, UC has been hard at work attempting to cut ties with the AAC and jump to the Big 12 for the last two years or so and groundswell for its inclusion has reached a fever pitch in recent months, weeks and, heck, even days. Just yesterday, a slew of outlets reported that, according to findings by an independent research firm hired by the Big 12, the league would stand a much better chance of being included in the College Football Playoff on a yearly basis if it grew to 12 teams and began holding an annual championship game. For a conference that was cut out of the first CFP, that's a big deal. The Big 12 wants to be in the same class as the SEC and Big Ten and right now it just isn't. However, if it adds a few schools and supplies a league championship, its getting into the ballpark, at least according to data. (#NERDS)
If the Big 12 decides at its annual spring meetings to expand, UC would be in a great position to be the first phone call from commissioner Bob Bowlsby.
Let's not shy away from the facts here, though. The Big 12 doesn't give a marsupials buttocks about the Bearcats. It cares about the money and elevating its standing, particularly when it comes to football. If a school besides UC presented a better chance for Big 12 to accomplish those goals, the Bearcats would be dumped in a fraction of a millisecond.
As Bowlsby told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd "If we do nothing, we'll fall behind the SEC and the Big Ten in terms of [revenue]. We may be every bit as competitive as we are today, but we'll fall behind financially." When Bowlsby says that he isn't talking about basketball, at least not primarily. The fact that Cincinnati would immediately elevate the conference's basketball reputation is a nice side effect, not the No. 1 factor.
On the flip side, UC is also out to use a possible invite to the Big 12 to its advantage. A more prestigious conference, with deeper football roots and, most importantly, big TV money, would go a long way in rising the tide for all ships, revenue or otherwise. Plus, getting to play against Texas, Oklahoma and others would be a lot more exciting than welcoming in Tulane and Tulsa.
So what does this new information tell us? Well, nothing really. For all practical purposes, it is just a drip of that glorious nectar known as realignment news. However, if the data is showing that the Big 12 has something to gain by expanding, its likely it will embrace such a strategy with bells on. That would be great news for UC, which would bring