Earlier this week, it was reported, the University of Cincinnati formally requested to join the Big 12 Conference. This is a move expected to be finalized, and Cincinnati will join the Big 12 in the summer of 2023.
Cincinnati will be good for the Big 12, and especially good for West Virginia. Not only will UC add a geographic neighbor to West Virginia. The two schools are 307 miles apart and just over a four hour drive from each other. Thus, more recruiting battles, and another game fans can attend.
Outside of the obvious geographic ties these schools have another commonality is the current head basketball coach of West Virginia— Bob Huggins. Huggins coached at UC from 1989-2005, before being ousted at Cincinnati.
A year later, Huggins came home to West Virginia and has been here since.
The current state of Cincinnati basketball is in transition. Cincinnati recently hired Wes Miller to take over as head coach. Miller brings 10 years of head coaching experience from UNC Greensboro, and many fans have hope that he will bring Cincinnati back to its glory days.
As for football, the move to the Big 12 will help elevate the Big 12. Since Luke Fickell became head coach in 2017, Cincinnati has been to three straight bowl games and was one of the best ‘Group of Five’ schools in the country.
In 2020, Cincinnati won the American Athletic Conference Championship and played Georgia in the Peach Bowl, losing 24-21, but showed the country Cincinnati football can play with almost anyone in the country.
Currently, Cincinnati is ranked No. 8 in the country in football, and Fickell is building a program destined to compete with other top programs in the country.
Cincinnati will be good for recruiting purposes as well. West Virginia tends to dip into the state of Ohio and they share a region with each other. Cincinnati will elevate the conference’s standing in football, and has the potential to present problems in basketball.
Photo by Rooted Creative, UC Athletics