In a relatively unexpected and shocking development, it was reported earlier today that USC and UCLA are both planning to leave the PAC-12 and join the Big Ten, possibly as early as 2024.
Source: USC and UCLA are planning to leave for the Big Ten as early as 2024. Move *has not been finalized* at the highest levels of power.— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 30, 2022
While this is a story that wasn’t particularly expected heading into the day, there had been some chatter online about the possibility, though it was pretty quickly dismissed. The same source that mentions this is in motion also claimed that the deal is not finalized, though it’s now being reported elsewhere that the deal is likely a formality at this point.
Spoke to a few sources who called USC and UCLA's move to the Big Ten a formality, with a press conference expected in next 24 hours. Perhaps as soon as tonight. This is essentially done.— Pete Thamel (@PeteThamel) June 30, 2022
The timing of the move makes plenty of sense as the Big Ten is working on it’s upcoming television deals. Not only will the conference add two more powerhouses to their stable of teams, but it will also allow the Big Ten to expand into the massive Los Angeles market. That same television revenue was likely a driving factor for UCLA and USC, with the Pac-12’s own network largely being a disaster and their current conference TV deals paling by comparison to the Big Ten.
While the move likely has a big emphasis on football and the addition of USC, the basketball side of things will get a huge boost from the addition of UCLA and their storied history. It will admittingly be a bit weird seeing west coast versus east games, with teams now traveling cross country to play each other in conference play.
Both schools have a grant of rights tied to the current Pac-12 television deal and with that set to expire after the 2023-24 school year, should allow each school to leave without suffering any financial penalty. With powerhouses like Texas and Oklahoma leaving for the SEC, the push to create super conferences is heightening and the Big Ten probably was the best fit for each school heading forward. And like everything else in the current college landscape, money drives everything.
Of course now the question is will the Big Ten continue to expand, as well as how will the Pac-12 respond after losing two of their biggest schools. With the Big Ten and SEC emerging as the two leading conferences, there could be a run on more schools from the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC in the everchanging conference shuffle.