Talks over which schools could join the Big 12 continue, and the University of Houston has a case for entry.
Ever since the Big 12 announced in July that it is considering the addition of multiple schools, programs have been lining up their cases. Football facilities figure to be a big part of the equation and, as we noted back in July, the University of Houston has a leg up in that area. Just two years ago, the school debuted the $128 million TDECU Stadium. Across the athletic department, progress continues on revamping facilities, with work set to begin on basketball’s overhauled Fertitta Center.
That, combined with the program’s presence in a large media market and robust football state, has given supporters some hope that a move to the Big 12 could be in the cards for the University of Houston. Berry Tramel at NewsOK wrote about this following the school’s win over the University of Oklahoma on Saturday:
“It certainly was a big game,” said Houston coach Tom Herman. “We told our guys it was a big game. But it’s a big game because we made it that way, because of how we prepared and because of the reputation that we’ve worked very hard to achieve. Not just for our team, but our fanbase. Holy smokes, that was off the charts. That was big-time football. Big-time football.”
When the day was done, Big 12 expansion was more clear than ever. Not crystal clear, not yet, but much more clear.
If the Big 12 needs to prop up its football, if the Big 12 needs a quick fix, a jolt of energy to add depth to a beleaguered product, there is no reason for further discussion. Add Houston and Brigham Young and get about the business of winning football games.
And that really is the Big 12’s current crisis. The Big 12’s football status has slipped. It would be enhanced immediately by BYU and Houston. The former has always played, in Herman’s words, “big-time football.” The latter is doing that now.
Houston is doing what TCU did. Taking care of business without the benefits of major-conference membership. Winning big games. Building a new stadium. Investing in a coach who is a difference-maker (Herman’s salary is $3 million a year). That’s what the Frogs did before the Big 12 invitation.
BYU fits a similar profile as the University of Houston, as it is a prominent school that has already made investments in its facilities. However, there are other schools dangling new or revamped venues. SMU is investing in a new training facility, while Colorado State is gaining notoriety through a new stadium that is set to open next year. Some of those programs might not have the prominence or media market potential of the University of Houston, but for now they are all in the mix for what is a competitive process to join the Big 12.
Image courtesy of the University of Houston Athletics.