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Billionaire Houston chairman thinks Texas is scared to let the Cougars into the Big 12

There's a lot of history between Houston and its Big 12 counterparts around Texas.

NCAA Football: Tulane at Houston Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

The billionaire chairman of the University of Houston's system board of regents thinks Texas is scared to let the Houston Cougars into the Big 12.

"That's kind of disappointing that Texas with their big budget fears the University of Houston," regent chair Tilman Fertitta told CBS Sports' Dennis Dodd in an article out on Friday. "For other schools in the Big 12 to keep them out because they're scared of them, men need to be men."

Some background: The Cougars are the best college football team in the country right now outside the Power 5 conferences (plus Notre Dame), and they're in a media market that ought to be attractive to one of the sport's biggest leagues. They're a really good team and probably will stay that way as long as Tom Herman is at their helm, but Fertitta also makes a geographic Big 12 pitch.

Fertitta, the star of the CNBC show Billion Dollar Buyer, thinks the SEC is taking over Houston. Before the 2012 season, the SEC added Texas A&M from the largely Texan Big 12, and College Station is only about 100 miles from Houston.

"When it comes to eyeballs, all you have to do is look at what we did at the end of the year," Fertitta said. "What I don't like -- and I'm concerned about -- as a Houstonian is that the SEC is starting to own Houston. ... There's more talk about the SEC than there is the Big 12.

"I just don't understand the Big 12 not wanting to own Houston, Texas, which is soon to be the third-largest populous in the United States. To me, it's a no-brainer. I'm just kind of disappointed and shocked it's not an automatic."

Houston currently plays in the American Athletic Conference. The Cougars played their games in Conference USA from 1996 to 2012, but perhaps things could've been different. Before that, they played in the old Southwest Conference, where they were league neighbors with Texas, Texas Tech, TCU and Baylor. Those schools went to the Big 12 for the 1996 season, but Houston didn't.

(Fertitta has previously said UH "belongs" with those schools again.)

When Houston shared a league with them, the Cougars did rather well. They had six top-20 AP Poll finishes in 20 years in the SWC and won two Cotton Bowls.

Texas A&M's presence in the SEC likely does give the league a boost in Houston. As of August 2014, the Big 12 didn't appear to dominate the city, per LinkedIn data (each > mark represents 10,000 alumni on LinkedIn).

The top alumni bases in the Houston market were, in order: Houston, Texas A&M, Texas, Rice and Texas State. As presently placed, that's UH, a team from the SEC, one from the Big 12, one from Conference USA and one from the Sun Belt.