Admittedly, it’s tough to keep up with the daily nonsense around the Big 12’s summer-long expansion quest. But the latest, for those that missed, is that the Cincinnati Bearcats appear to be frontrunners in the race if the conference does, indeed, expand.
You may remember Cincinnati from such hits as “the time they made things miserable for Syracuse in the old Big East,” and “that one time we blew them out in 2010.”
Now, I’ve always liked Bearcats fans. And actioncookbook is a pretty nice dude that you should follow on Twitter. To be honest, I want them to make it into the Big 12 (especially if it’s instead of UConn). But there’s also an argument to be made that their promotion to a Power Five conference wouldn’t do the Orange any favors on the recruiting front.
Take, this year, for example:
Of Syracuse’s current 2017 commits, four (Tommy DeVito, Allen Strizinger, Zach Morton and Aaron Hackett) hold Cincinnati offers. Looking at the 2016 class, six (James Pierre, Jaquwan Nelson, Rex Culpepper, Tim Walton, Andrew Armstrong and Liam O’Sullivan) had offers from the Bearcats and O’Sullivan was a Cincy flip after Babers took over.
While both schools recruit from a variety of areas around the country, it’s tough to deny that there’s some intersection, especially in the Pennsylvania/Ohio/Indiana/Michigan area. SU goes to Florida a little bit more, but that’s because they’re not a state school in Ohio. Back when the two teams shared space in the Big East, they were also pursuing similar recruits, and the Bearcats won those battles more often than not. Several 10-win seasons certainly helped them gain an advantage there. Just like SU’s P5 status has helped them gain an advantage lately.
So what happens if Cincinnati is suddenly on equal footing again?
Because Syracuse is recruiting for the Orange’s new spread offense, the damage could be mitigated (much more so than if we were going for Scott Shafer’s old #hardnosed style of play). But it would certainly make work harder for the SU staff in the Midwest. If Cincinnati gets an invite soon, there’s a potential for at least a few Midwest Orange commits to give the Bearcats, their accomplished coach (Tommy Tubberville) and their Big 12 status a second look before National Signing Day rolls around -- especially if the Bearcats rack up eight or nine wins in the AAC while Syracuse is closer to five or six in the ACC.
Syracuse isn’t singled out in this potential struggle either. Boston College, Pittsburgh, Louisville and others in the region are able to recruit well against Cincinnati right now because of a gulf in perceived status. If that goes away, those teams are suddenly in a much different situation when it comes to Midwest recruits, potentially forcing a major change in strategy. A lot of guesswork here, of course. But it’s worth keeping an eye on if/when Cincinnati gets a bid from the Big 12.
(H/T to Land-Grant Holy Land for getting the thought process going on this one)