Assuming the Big 12 makes its expected move of adding UCF, Houston, Cincinnati and BYU, Friday will be one of the most distressing days in USF football history.

It will mean USF has been lapped by the UCF program it reportedly blocked from joining the Big East a decade ago. It will mean the I-4 gap has grown so large that the Bulls can’t even ride their once-little-brother’s coattails to greener pastures.

It will mean the Knights, officially, are out of USF’s league.

But it doesn’t have to stay that way. The Bulls can change it.

“This is not the last round of realignment,” athletic director Michael Kelly said. “I don’t know if it’s going to happen in a month, in a year, two years. But we have to control what we can control and improve what we can do.”

USF can build itself the way UCF did and charge on into a Power Five conference. Or it can risk becoming like UConn and fading into obscurity. The choice is up to every player, coach, administrator, graduate and fan.

The Bulls should be attractive to power leagues. They sit in a growing top-20 metro area teeming with recruits in one of the biggest football states. Those factors helped make USF a finalist when the Big 12 explored expansion in 2016, got them considered this time and will make them appealing next time, too.

USF’s problem is USF. The Bulls aren’t going into the Power Five because they don’t belong there yet.

Three of the Big 12′s four impending additions have played in at least one major bowl game since 2015. The other, BYU, went 11-1 last year.

USF has lost 23 of its last 36 games. That’s a fatal flaw in a realignment round driven by football success.

USF’s facilities are not Power Five worthy. The indoor practice facility the Bulls broke ground on Wednesday is long-overdue progress — UCF has had one for so long that it just replaced its turf — but not enough.

The on-campus stadium USF says it’s now prioritizing? UCF has had one since 2007. Houston opened a $125 million stadium in 2014, and Cincinnati spent $86 million renovating Nippert Stadium a year later.