This story dropped right before the KD trade demand news dropped, so it kind of got overshadowed. But it is a massive story in the college football world.
At first, there was this:
It seemed like nothing was imminent; whispers and little more. Early stages.
Then within hours, it was basically a done deal. It had been sent to the Big Ten for approval, and it was approved by about 7:30pm EST:
Done deal. USC and UCLA to the Big Ten.
And just like that, the Big Ten now has 16 teams.
The SEC made the blockbuster move of the year in poaching Oklahoma and Texas, now the Big Ten counters by adding USC and UCLA. UCLA may not be the big football name, but it’s a rising program led by a proven winner–Chip Kelly. Plus, UCLA is probably the bluest of all blue bloods in terms of college basketball. They have the most national championships, after all.
But the real prize here, in terms of football, is USC. Yes, USC has been down for nearly a decade-and-a-half. But USC is, no matter what, one of the truly elite programs in the sport historically. USC is right up there with Alabama, Ohio State, Notre Dame and Oklahoma. It is undeniably a top-5 program all-time.
And USC is on the rise, too. The offensive arms race between Lincoln Riley in Los Angeles and Ryan Day in Columbus is going to be unbelievable. Lincoln Riley is going to turn USC into an offensive juggernaut, and Ryan Day has already done that at Ohio State. Just wonder if either team will play any defense.
But historically, Ohio State and USC have met many times in the Rose Bowl. It’s not an official or full-fledged rivalry, but there is a history there between those two storied programs. And now they will be the titans of the Big Ten.
I really do think this move will revitalize college football in Los Angeles–perhaps even to the level it was at during the golden years of Pete Carroll, Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart. Now, LA will have Ohio State and Michigan and Penn State coming to town for big Saturday night showdowns in the fall. The Big Ten Energy will now make its way into LA, and I think it’ll do wonders.
Assuming the Conference re-works the whole division system (pods would be better, with simply the top two records in the conference meeting in the conference title game), we could have Big Ten Championship games of Ohio State vs. USC, which is like a freaking National Championship matchup.
I wonder where they’ll play the Big Ten Championship from now on, now that the Big Ten has a west coast presence? I’m sure it’ll stay in Indy for the near term, but eventually, could we see it played in SoFi? I doubt that would become a regular thing, as 11 out of the 16 teams in the conference are located east of the Mississippi (and 14 of 16 are east of the Rocky Mountains). But it would be enticing.
Probably once the Bears build their new (presumably retractable roof) stadium in the Chicago suburbs, that will become the mecca for the Big Ten. But that’s 7-10 years away.
So the Pac-12, which had been dying a slow death as a conference–from the Friday Night Conference Championship games, to the fact that they just don’t get teams in the playoff–is now officially on death’s door. They lose both their Los Angeles teams, which is a mortal blow. That’s by far the biggest media market and cash cow for the conference, and now it’s gone. Sure, they still have Cal and Stanford in the Bay Area, but those are not the most lucrative football programs.
The Pac-12 (10 now) is basically left with Utah, Oregon and Stanford. Those are their big-time names. And with Mario Cristobal out at Oregon and on to Miami, who knows what the future holds for them.
The Pac-12, like the Big-12, is now basically a rump conference with no top-echelon programs. It’s like the heads have been lopped off both snakes.
Maybe the Big-12 and Pac-12 explore a merger?
I mean, after this move, “The Alliance” (remember the Big Ten-Pac 12-ACC coalition?) is now pretty much dead. The Big Ten just massively stabbed the Pac 12 in the back.
There are people saying the Big Ten isn’t done yet, either. So maybe they try to poach some more Pac-12 teams? Or perhaps they go after the ACC?
Ultimately, though, it seems like College Football is becoming the SEC and the Big Ten, and then everybody else. The SEC and Big Ten have officially detached from the rest of the sport.
The realignment of the sport is not done, either. I think when this all shakes out we will eventually have the South vs. the Rest of the Country, and that’s how it will be structured. Probably a 12-team playoff, or maybe just 8–but expansion of the playoff is guaranteed.
I know Ohio State’s AD was even saying, recently (I can’t find the quote) that the big time schools should look at just pulling away from the NCAA altogether and forming their own football league.
This is going to take a while to shake out, but I think we can all see that the SEC and Big Ten are detaching from the rest of the FBS. They are now the premier power players in the sport, and any power program that is not a part of the SEC or Big Ten had either better get in line to join, or start preparing for life as an independent. That means you, Notre Dame–and Clemson, and Oregon, and Utah, and Florida State, and Miami.
What a day in the sports world.