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.