Cincinnati Bearcats

CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 1: Hayden Moore #8 of the Cincinnati Bearcats looks to pass against the Miami Hurricanes in the first half at Nippert Stadium on October 1, 2015 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
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Gunner Kiel loses Cincinnati’s starting QB battle to Hayden Moore

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The collegiate career of Gunner Kiel has hit yet another speed bump entering his last season.

Cincinnati announced that Hayden Moore will be the Bearcats’ starting quarterback moving forward. Moore and Kiel, a senior, had been engaged in a quarterback battle that began in the spring and continued on into the first portion of summer camp.

Moore’s consistency throughout the competition led to Tommy Tuberville pulling the trigger in his favor in a competition that also included Ros Trail..

“Hayden was our most consistent quarterback from spring football all the way through training camp,” the head coach said in a statement. “He gives us the best chance to win right now. Gunner Kiel and Ross Trail will continue to battle for the backup QB spot, but it’s important all three be ready to play when we kick this thing off in 10 days. It’s important to us to name a starter now so Hayden has some time working exclusively with the first-team offense to continue to develop timing and a comfort level with our offensive skill players.”

Moore started three games last season as a redshirt freshman, throwing for 1,683 yards and eight touchdowns. In relief of an injured Kiel, Moore passed for a school-record 557 yards in a loss to Memphis, then started the next two games. He also started the bowl game as Kiel didn’t play because of what were described as “personal problems.”

Kiel started all 13 games for the Bearcats in 2014, then started 10 in 2015 as he dealt with a head injury.

Kiel officially transferred to the Bearcats April 19, 2013, exactly one month after it was confirmed he was no longer a member of the Irish football program.  He was originally an Indiana commit and then a LSU commit before he flipped his commitment to Notre Dame shortly before National Signing Day, prompting the Tigers’ head coach to take the low road when it came to the five-star prospect and introducing “chesticular fortitude” to the vernacular.

Cincinnati officially tells the Big 12 it’s interested in joining

CINCINNATI, OH - DECEMBER 03:  The Cincinnati Bearcat looks on during the game against the Connecticut Huskies on December 3, 2011 at Nippert Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bearcats defeated the Connecticut Huskies 35-27. (Photo by Tyler Barrick/Getty Images)
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It was just a formality, but Cincinnati officially sent a letter of interest to the Big 12 last month that could signal the beginning of discussions between the conference and university about linking up.

The Cincinnati Enquirer obtained the letter, dated July 25 and sent by interim university president Beverly Davenport, though an open records request (read their summary here).

Cincinnati appears an early favorite to join the Big 12 as Bob Bowlsby & Co. look to expand by two or four schools from a large group of interested parties. Cincinnati has trumpeted its power-five credentials for a couple years now with inevitable Big 12 expansion in mind.

That doesn’t mean Cincinnati is guaranteed to make the Big 12’s cut, but if it does, it would represent a major financial windfall for a program that only recently has rocketed into national relevance. Cincinnati made its first bowl game in 1997 and, prior to the Tommy Tuberville era, was coached by Butch Jones (now at Tennessee), Brian Kelly (now at Notre Dame) and Mark Dantonio (now at Michigan State). The success those three coaches brought to the Bearcats elevated Cincinnati’s profile to the point where entrance into the Big 12 is a distinct possibility.

Arkansas State, Air Force, Northern Illinois, San Diego State on Big 12’s expansion list, too

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Friday it was reported that Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby will be conducting videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Of those 17, 14 schools were known.

Now we know the other three schools, as well as an 18th interested in membership.

As we had previously noted, San Diego State was believed to be one of the original 17 mentioned by ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy.  McMurphy confirmed SDSU is one of the now-18 that’ll state their case to the league, while also noting that the Sun Belt’s Arkansas State, Mountain West’s Air Force and MAC’s Northern Illinois will do so as well.

So, for those keeping score at home, below is a conference-by-conference breakdown of potential additions to the Big 12.

AMERICAN
Cincinnati
East Carolina
Houston
Memphis
SMU
Temple
Tulane
UCF
UConn
USF

INDEPENDENT
BYU

MAC
Northern Illinois

MOUNTAIN WEST
Air Force
Boise State
Colorado State
New Mexico
San Diego State

SUN BELT
Arkansas State

While 18 schools will be afforded the opportunity to stump for their inclusion, it’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  While it remains to be seen whether the Big 12 expands by two or four, McMurphy also reported that it’s “less and less likely” that current 10-team conference will expand by four.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Report: Big 12 will talk to 17 schools, expanding by two more likely than four

WVU vs Marshall
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While no announcement is imminent, it appears there’s some additional clarity on the Big 12 expansion front.

First and foremost, ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy is reporting, it’s becoming what sources described as “less and less likely” that the Big 12 will expand to 14 from its current 10-school membership.  Instead, the conference likely either stand pat or add just two teams.  The latter move would allow the conference to split into two six-team divisions.

As for potential expansion candidates, McMurphy reports that commissioner Bob Bowlsby will conduct videoconferences with the 17 schools that have contacted the conference expressing interest in becoming a member of the league.  Those 17 schools include oft-mentioned suspects such as Boise State, Cincinnati, BYU, Cincinnati, Colorado State, Houston, Memphis, Tulane, UCF, UConn and USF.  Additionally, East Carolina, New Mexico, SMU and Temple are part of the large group looking for inclusion.

Only 14 of the 17 schools that will be a part of the videoconferences were listed by McMurphy.  It’s believed San Diego State is another of the 17.  Air Force, Fresno State and Hawaii have also been previously mentioned as possibilities.

It’s believed that some combination of BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, Memphis, UCF and UConn will ultimately be part of any expansion.  The first one mentioned when it comes to presumptive front-runners will, however, have to overcome some negative attention some of its policies have received as of late.

It has previously been reported that the Big 12 would like to settle the expansion issue before the start of the upcoming season, although that appears, like adding four schools, less and less likely.  Instead, a decision might not be made until a board of directors meeting scheduled for October.

Report: No school has votes necessary for Big 12 expansion yet

DALLAS, TX - OCTOBER 10:  Jerrod Heard #13 of the Texas Longhorns carries the ball against the Oklahoma Sooners in the second quarter during the AT&T Red River Showdown at the Cotton Bowl on October 10, 2015 in Dallas, Texas.  (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)
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Remember, folks, just because they’ve agreed to expand doesn’t mean they’ve agreed to expand. Allow me to explain.

The Big 12 announced last month plans to pursue expansion, all that really means is that league presidents have authorized commissioner Bob Bowlsby to speak with prospective candidates about joining the conference. However, any new member still has to receive eight votes to join the conference, and a report Wednesday night from Chuck Carlton of the Dallas Morning News says no one is at that point yet.

However, Carlton adds, “In-depth discussions and inevitable horse trading haven’t really begun yet.”

Texas has publicly backed Houston, with Texas Tech and leadership at the Capitol in Austin following suit, which leads one to believe the Coogs have an early lead for one spot. (Unless, that is, Texas is just putting up a front because it knows Houston has no shot at eight votes.) Assuming that’s real, and Carlton’s sources say it is, he writes Oklahoma, whose president David Boren has been the bus driver of this entire process, may get to push for a school. The lead candidates appear to be Cincinnati and BYU but, as Carlton writes, “recent reports about BYU’s honor code in regard to sexual assault victims and its stance on LGBT issues may raise questions with Big 12 presidents, two sources said.”

After that’s, it’s an evolving list with “Who Knows” and “Anybody’s Guess” alternating top positions.

Additionally, Carlton writes that football-only membership doesn’t seem to be on the table — “Nobody wants it,” a source said — and the feeling in the board room is that Texas and Oklahoma are very much biding their time until the Big 12’s Grant of Rights expires in the middle of the next decade and the Red River rivals will be free to evaluate their options.