Big 12 numbers: Evolving conference has more schools, students and miles to travel
Aug 26, 2023, 12:14 PM
(Photo by G Fiume/Maryland Terrapins/Getty Images)
The Big 12 Conference is bigger than ever before with 14 schools spread across eight states, and those numbers will increase next year.
Newcomers UCF, Houston, Cincinnati and BYU bring huge student bodies into the Big 12. And more miles to travel.
A by-the-numbers look at the newfangled Big 12 going into the 2023 season, the last before Texas and Oklahoma leave for the Southeastern Conference, and at the same time four teams that are now in the Pac-12 come into the league:
UCF has the largest enrollment among the Big 12 schools with 59,996 undergraduate students, according to the most recent figures (fall 2021) available on the data website for the U.S. Education Department. Texas’ enrollment of 40,916 ranked second.
All four newcomers were already among the six largest enrollments in the conference. Houston was third at 38,581, ahead of continuing member Texas Tech’s 33,132 undergrad students. BYU showed an enrollment of 31,642 and Cincinnati had 28,968 on its main campus to rank sixth among the 14 schools.
TCU, with the smallest enrollment at 10,222, made the College Football Playoff national championship game last season. The men’s basketball team then made the second round of the NCAA Tournament, and the baseball team went to the College World Series.
Newcomer BYU will have the farthest flight for a Big 12 conference game this year, more than 1,600 air miles to play Thanksgiving weekend at West Virginia, which before the new additions was the league’s geographic outcast. A drive between those two campuses would take about 28 hours, seven times longer than it takes to fly.
West Virginia and UCF both have to fly more than 1,000 miles for four of their five away games this season. But the Mountaineers only have to go about 680 air miles for its game at UCF on Oct. 28, which is shorter than how far the Knights have to go for their game at Cincinnati.
For the league’s other 12 teams, there are only a combined five trips with flights further than 1,000 miles. That includes BYU’s trip to West Virginia.
The league’s longest potential trip is about 1,900 air miles between BYU and UCF, though the newcomers don’t play each other this season.
SOME OTHER NUMBERS
3: Time zones where the Big 12 has schools (Eastern, Central and Mountain).
5: Heisman Trophy winners in the Big 12 era for current league teams: Texas RB Ricky Williams (1998); Oklahoma QBs Jason White (2003), Sam Bradford (2008), Baker Mayfield (2017) and Kyler Murray (2018); and Baylor QB Robert Griffin III (2011). Nebraska’s Eric Crouch won in 2001 when the Cornhuskers were still in the Big 12.
6: Different schools that have appeared in the Big 12 championship game the past three years (Iowa State vs. Oklahoma; Baylor vs. Oklahoma State; and Kansas State vs. TCU).
9: Number of conference games each team plays, same as when it was a 10-team league with a round-robin schedule. There are four conference foes that each team won’t play this season.
16(asterisk): Schools that will be in the league next summer when Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah are set to join as Oklahoma and Texas depart. That will have the league spread over 10 states. (Of course, there is an asterisk, just in case there are any more unexpected realignment moves).
17: Big 12 championships Oklahoma has won or shared (out of the league’s 27 seasons so far).
19: Seasons that Mike Gundy has been the head coach at Oklahoma State, his alma mater, making him the Big 12’s longest-tenured coach.
95: Career TD passes by Oklahoma QB Dillon Gabriel, who threw for 3,168 yards and 25 TDs last season after transferring from UCF. Gabriel had 8,037 yards and 70 TDs passing in his three seasons with the Knights, who play at Oklahoma on Oct. 21.
803: Number of pass blocking plays Kansas State left guard Cooper Beebe, a member of The Associated Press preseason All-America team, has played since 2020 without allowing a sack, according to Pro Football Focus.
1996: First Big 12 season, after the Big Eight Conference merged with four Texas teams from the old Southwest Conference.
2010: Final Big 12 season for Nebraska (to Big Ten) and Colorado (to Pac-12), dropping the league to 10 schools.
2011: Final Big 12 season for Texas A&M and Missouri before they went to the SEC.
2012: First Big 12 season for TCU and West Virginia.