As mentioned earlier today, Cincinnati is at the top of most people's lists for expansion. Since the Big 12 added West Virginia and then failed to go after Louisville, Cincinnati became the most logical next choice. But they weren't added at the time, and you'd think there'd have to be something that has been preventing the Bearcats from already being invited. Well, it turns out there are several somethings, so lets take a look.
"But their location makes them ideal!" you say. And while geography is on their side, the actual market they "command" is not. Cincinnati is only the 34th-ranked TV market and sits smack in the middle of a well-covered tv map that includes Big Ten, ACC, and SEC marketing already in place. Sure, you'd add interest in the area, but it's not going to bring in the numbers of a Tampa or Orlando, or bring you closer to fertile recruiting grounds like New Orleans or even Memphis. And the "Rust Belt" is an area in population decline, meaning the likelyhood of any of those markets growing as compared to their market rivals in lower latitudes is slim.
Nippert Stadium, the fifth-oldest stadium in college football, is cool, and just finished a round of major upgrades and expansion that has brought the official capacity to 40,000 (still 5k below current "small stadium schools" TCU and Baylor). So it's small for the Big 12, and you know that Texas and Oklahoma are going to demand playing in Paul Brown Stadium, whether it's good for Cincinnati or not. Plus, is Tommy Tuberville still there? That dude has already taken his lumps in the conference and ran off for easier pastures. And he lost to Baylor in a game I remember for one of the most glorious calls I've ever heard an official make on live television: *with Texas drawl* "...so we're going 10 yards in this direction, and then 15 yards back the other way...First Down!". But seriously, Tubby only went 7-6 this year and has lost all three bowls games at Cincinnati, so something is clearly wrong.
Fifth Third Arena (btw, whoever thought "Fifth Third" was a good name for a bank is crazy) is nice, and would quickly deposit itself right in the middle of the Big 12 in terms of size and quality. But the basketball hasn't been the same since Bob Huggins was
kindly asked to leave let go in 2005 (THANKS GUYS). Oh wait, that Mick Cronin guy is doing well now isn't he?
The baseball stadium is nice, and features a full-turf field. But the Bearcat baseball squad has fallen on hard times of late, and haven't had a winning season since 2011 (I mean, K-State baseball rose to conference champs and then fell to the cellar since then, so it's been a while). And the Bearcats haven't been to the NCAA tournament since before the Bicentennial. But it would be nice to add another baseball team to get at least to an even number for the conference tournament.
Do the Bearcats even have a women's basketball team? Oh, I guess so, but they only won 8 games each of the last two seasons and haven't broken .500 since the 2006-2007. Yeah, that's not good.
I mean, it's Cincinnati. It's not like taking a road trip to the sunny Florida peninsula or to places with beautiful mountain views. It's a mid-western city that isn't necessarily all that different from Kansas City 15 years ago. Cincinnati isn't exactly a destination trip for most Big 12 fans who already have to endure trips to Ames and Lawrence. Plus, everyone has breweries, museums, and famous people, so you're gonna have to do better than that, Cincinnati. Seriously, you're competing with schools near beaches..
UC doesn't bring any particularly fertile recruiting grounds, and what talent is in the Ohio Valley is already strip-mined by the big Big Ten schools. Sure, a kid from Ohio may be interested in getting away from home, but the Texas schools would rather stay south of the Missouri Compromise line for their recruiting and can get whatever kids they really want from that region without needing a "presence" there.
And then there's this garbage, which should be enough to not only keep Cincinnati out of the Big 12 but really should also have been sufficient to have the Reds and Bengals kicked out of MLB and the NFL, respectively.
Seriously, people. The only way to adequately compare this abomination to something else is to imagine a Kansas City restaurant which recommends you order your KC Strip well-done. It's an even worse culinary disaster than North Carolina barbecue, Saint Louis "pizza", and calling Maryland blue crabs just "crab" when there's perfectly good king and snow crab on the menu.
Finally, those crazy kids in Morgantown already get riled up enough. Do we really need to add an actual "rival" that might elevate those kids from simple living-room furniture arson to actual full-blown arson? No sir, we do not. We do our best to keep those moon-shine chugging crazies at bay, and don't need someone they may actually hate to stoke that fire.
Seriously though, of all the potential schools floated out for expansion, the University of Cincinnati is the one that makes the most sense to this writer, and the one that seems most likely to get the "next invite" to the Big 12. I guess we'll just have to wait and see what the Big 12 actually decides to do in the coming months/year. But Bearcats, I think you'll do.