Now that it’s official and we know that UCF, Cincinnati, and Houston are set to join the Big 12 for the 2023 season, along with BYU, there will be four new destinations for Big 12 fans. As the conference realignment in college athletics continues, the good old days are over. To drive a few hours and be at almost every destination in your conference is a thing of the past. Depending on who you ask, this is good or bad.
But regardless, with four new cities and campuses to enroll in the Big 12, it has advanced and ranked new travel destinations for Big 12 fans.
1. BYU Cougars: Provo, Utah
Well, one thing that many of us who live in the 12 largest countries don’t get every day is mountains. I’ll leave you with this view from Laville Edwards Stadium.
I could stop there and still justify BYU to be #1 on this list, but when you consider seeing and experiencing a whole new part of the country that many probably haven’t, there are plenty of reasons to put the program at the top of this list. Located on Utah Lake, Provo is also a reasonable drive to Salt Lake City. Depending on the time of year, you’re a short drive from skiing to the east, you can hike, and you can tour places like the BYU Museum of Paleontology to the BYU Museum of Art. The options are plentiful and while it may not be an easy ride, something tells me this is one Big 12 fans will enjoy for years to come.
2. UCF Golden Knights: Orlando, Florida
Talk about the weather. Well, UCF may not be a fun trip in September, but if you’re a fan of Iowa or Kansas, and you see a road trip to UCF in November, it looks a lot more appealing. Add in a 30-minute trip from Disney World (UCF is on the east side of Orlando, while Disney is on the west side) and you’ve got a long weekend with the family that includes a soccer game with your favorite team and a day or two at the Magic Kingdom, Universal Studios, and so on. Well, if you’re going to make it a men’s weekend, you have access to some of the best golf options in the country, catch Orlando Magic, or even another college football game (Gainesville is a two-hour drive away and you can theoretically catch some humble football from SEC with 12:00 noon before the UCF night game).
3. Cincinnati Bearcats: Cincinnati, Ohio
Of all the new teams in the Big 12, Cincinnati may have the most similar cultural feel to many Big 12 fans. The feel and culture of the Midwest will be memorable and familiar to many, yet it is also a much larger metropolitan area than many of the Big 12 cities. Cincinnati has professional football and baseball, so depending on the time of year, check out a new MLB stadium at Great American Ball Park. The park contains panoramas of downtown Cincinnati, Mount Adams, the Ohio River, and northern Kentucky that can be seen from most of the park. Or, if you’re lucky, maybe your NFL team plays the Bengals this weekend and you can pair the Big 12 with an NFL game that same weekend. Cincinnati is also beginning to be known for its craft beer scene, which many Big 12 fans will appreciate. For families, the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Gardens are often rated as one of the best in the country. All in all, this will be a pleasant trip for the big 12 fans who have a relaxed feel.
4. Houston Cougars: Houston, Texas
Before your Houston fans freak out, there’s one big reason Houston comes last on the list: It’s already a city that many Big 12 fans know. Many of the big 12 Texas schools and fans remember when Houston was with the league in the Southwest Conference and didn’t They only travel there for football that day, but they are also likely to live in Houston, have family in the area and/or travel for business. It really isn’t a “new” city for many big 12 fans. The Big 12 also has an association with the Texas Bowl, which was played at NRG Stadium in Houston, which attracts a 12-midfield team each season.
Houston is the largest metropolitan area on the list and will offer everything from professional sports to concerts and an incredibly diverse dining scene. There’s nothing you won’t be able to do in Houston, except avoid the humidity. That would be nearly impossible.
However, I will be new to many of these cities when I visit their campus for the first time when they join the Big 12. If you’re a fan of one of these teams and there are things Big 12 fans need to do when visiting the road game, please leave them in the comments!