What Big 12 Basketball Coaches Are Saying About BYU Joining

Oct 20, 2021, 1:21 PM
Scott Drew - Baylor - Big 12...
INDIANAPOLIS, INDIANA - APRIL 05: Head coach Scott Drew of the Baylor Bears addresses the crowd after defeating the Gonzaga Bulldogs 86-70 in the National Championship game of the 2021 NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament at Lucas Oil Stadium on April 05, 2021 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)

PROVO, Utah – The Big 12 basketball conference is considered by many to be the best league in America. Advanced analytics such as Ken Pomeroy back that statement up.

When Texas and Oklahoma leave the Big 12, and programs such as BYU, UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston join, the league will still be among the best nationally.

BYU is set to join the conference during the 2023-24 academic year, with the three AAC universities joining no later than 2024-25.

On October 19-20, the Big 12 Conference held its annual basketball media days for Men’s and Women’s basketball at the T-Mobile Center in Kansas City. Here’s what coaches from around the Big 12 said about the new members, specifically BYU.

Jamie Dixon, TCU Horned Frogs

Dixon, formerly the head coach at Pitt, is entering his sixth season with the TCU Horned Frogs. He was asked about the BYU-TCU rivalry that existed during the Mountain West Conference days.

“I wasn’t there for that. I’ll take your word for it. Was that basketball and football? I’m looking forward to it. I was in the old WAC back in the day at Hawaii. We had a nice rivalry with BYU, with the football games and basketball games as well.

“I’m looking forward to it. I think it’s a great thing. As far as adding the teams, BYU included of those four teams, we’ve certainly got four great programs, both basketball and football. I think there’s no way we could have done any better, and BYU is a big part of that. They’re ranked in football. They’ll always be good in basketball. It’s a tough place to play. I’ve been there many times. Haven’t won there many times.

“Looking forward to the opportunity. I had heard about some of the football games when they were playing against each other. Certainly we’re looking forward to it.

“Like I said, we landed on our feet real well. BYU is a big part of that.”

Scott Drew, Baylor Bears

The defending National Champion Baylor Bears were picked to finish third for the upcoming season. Head Coach Scott Drew was asked what he thought the four new teams are bringing to the Big 12 moving forward.

“Well, definitely it’s four schools with tradition. When you join the Big 12, I think they’re just going to get stronger.

“Basketball-wise, BYU has great fan support, great following, has been very successful on the court.

“Houston, Coach Sampson, know him from when we first got into the Big 12, a great coach. He’s done a tremendous job with that program. They were a Final Four team last year.

“Cincinnati, great tradition and history. Obviously doing really well in football this year. That’s another school that Coach Huggins helped bring them to where they’re at today.

“Then Central Florida, Coach Dawks does a great job. That program is just going to continue to get better and better.

“It’s exciting for the Big 12. We’re back to 12 teams again. But I know this is my 19th season in the Big 12; there’s a lot of pride and accomplishment just what we’ve accomplished as far as programs being as consistent since 2014 as we’ve been. To me, the next step, again, would be just to get three teams. We’ve had two teams in the Final Four together. To have three teams.

“Again, the nation can see just what great basketball the Big 12 has.”

T.J. Otzelberger, Iowa State

Otzelberger left UNLV to become the head coach at Iowa State. He’s gearing up for his first season leading the Cyclones. Otzelberger was asked about his thoughts on expansion and the Big 12 adding BYU.

“Well, BYU is certainly a program and a school with a rich basketball history and tradition. Recently they’ve had some really good teams and seasons, as well. Passionate fan base.

“This league is made up of a bunch of programs that have that history, tradition, fan base. Be exciting to see what they bring to the table in the years to come.”

Bruce Weber, Kansas State

Weber has been coaching for more than two decades. He’s entering his 10th season at Kansas State and during Media Days, he was asked specifically about what comes to mind when he thinks about BYU?

“Unbelievable environment. It was at Southern Illinois; we were in the NIT, played a late-night game on a Monday night. Just a great atmosphere.

“Obviously we ended up losing that game, but they’ve been very, very successful. Basketball, football, top 20.

“For expansion, again, I mentioned earlier, I’m happy for our league. I’m happy for K-State, all the teams that stayed together, then adding teams, we’re back to 12. In my tenure here in the Big 12, every year in the spring we have meetings. We always ask Commissioner, ‘Are we going to expand?’ Everybody felt we were at a pretty good place, winning, money-wise. Obviously, things change. We had to figure it out.

“Now we’re back to 12. We had to get media markets, we had to get population base for TV for the future. I think we accomplished that.

“You look at the success of BYU in football right now, Cincinnati, Houston, Central Florida. On paper, it looks like it’s pretty good. I don’t know if we’re going to be stronger, but basketball, football, I think we got great additions. I think the future is ripe for the Big 12.”

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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