Recently, the University of Cincinnati Bearcats released the news that they would be leaving the American Conference after this season and will be joining the Big 12. Along with Cincinnati, Brigham Young University, the University of Central Florida, and the University of Houston will also be joining the Big 12.
BYU is leaving the West Coast Conference while BYU, UCF, and Houston will be joining Cincinnati in leaving the American Conference. This comes off the heels of the news breaking that Texas and Oklahoma both would be leaving the Big 12 to join the SEC.
Now, the Big 12 will consist of Cincinnati, BYU, UCF, Houston, Iowa State, Kansas, Kansas State, TCU, Oklahoma State, Texas Tech, and West Virginia. When they finally make the transition over to the Big 12 next season, Cincinnati very well may come into the conference being the best team and the powerhouse of the Big 12.
However, this only holds true for football. Currently, Cincinnati ranks higher in the AP top 25 polls out of any team that will be joining the Big 12 or any team that will be remaining in the Big 12.
They sit at the 7th ranking at the moment. One of the other teams that will be joining or remaining in the Big 12 is Iowa State (9). However, some other Big 12 teams that are receiving votes to make the top 25 cut are TCU, Oklahoma State, Kansas State, BYU, and Texas Tech.
While this is basically irrelevant as each team has key juniors or seniors that will no longer be on the team next season. However, it is a good indication as to the program quality and its longevity.
Luke Fickell has done an incredible job running the show for Cincinnati. He became the head coach of the team in 2017. In the previous season, the Bearcats had a very lackluster record of 4-8. Fickell replicated that record in his first season in Cincinnati.
However, since his second season with the team, Cincinnati has had incredible records and have worked their way up to being one of the best football programs in the entire country.
In 2018, the Bearcats finished with an 11-2 record, finishing the season with a win in the Military Bowl. They followed it up with an 11-3 record, ending the year with a win in the Birmingham Bowl. Last season, Cincinnati had their best season yet under Fickell.
They remained in the playoff conversation throughout the entirety of the year. They finished the year with a 9-1 record, their only loss coming in the Peach Bowl against the Georgia Bulldogs.
Fickell has done a great job recruiting and bringing in some of the top talents in the country to Cincinnati. However, once they are on campus, he may do an even better job of molding those players and developing them into NFL talent.
With Cincinnati now being introduced into the Big 12, it opens up their recruiting and possible pipeline states to a whole new level.
If Fickell is able to remain coaching at the level he is and gets his players to perform at the level that they have been the past two seasons, the Big 12 may be under their thumb for the foreseeable future.