USC & UCLA to the Big Ten

The UCLA vs UW football game on Saturday, Nov. 22, 2014, at the Husky Stadium, Seattle, WA. (© Steve Cheng. All Rights Reserved.)

We thought the dust had settled. But that is not the case. College realignment is back in the spotlight. USC and UCLA, two of the Pac-12’s flagship programs, are planning to leave the conference for the Big Ten. They formally applied for the Big 10 and have been approved. This move would be less disruptive than potential moves in the ACC. USC and UCLA have a grant of rights tied to the current Pac-12 television contract. That deals expires after the 2023 football season and the 2023-24 school year.

Alijah Vera-Tucker #75, Amon-Ra St. Brown #8, Kedon Slovis #9 and Tyler Vaughns #21 of the USC Trojans lead their team down the tunnel to the field before the start of their game against the Utah Utes November 21, 2020 at Rice Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City, Utah. (Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

(Chris Gardner/Getty Images)

“Over the past three years, we have worked hard to ground our university decisions in what is best for our students,” said USC President Carol L. Folt. “With the Big Ten, we are joining a storied conference that shares our commitment to academic excellence and athletic competitiveness. We are positioning USC and our student-athletes for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly evolving sports media and collegiate athletics landscapes. We are delighted to begin this new chapter in 2024.”

It will be interesting to see how this will affect Fox’s upcoming television deal with the Big Ten, which should be announced in weeks. The addition of the two schools would bring in both the West Coast and one of the country’s most appealing media markets. Big Ten is working on an annual deal worth a billion dollars, and the California teams want a part of the pie.

Gameday Information – UCLA vs. USC - UCLA

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“We also will benefit from the stability and strength of the conference; the athletic caliber of Big Ten institutions; the increased visibility, exposure, and resources the conference will bring our student-athletes and programs; and the ability to expand engagement with our enthusiastic alumni nationwide.” USC Athletic Director Mike Bohn added.

It has been a wild year for the USC Trojans. USC has been in a slump the last few years. The hire of Lincoln Riley has brought the energy back into the program. With that hire, five-star QB Caleb Williams transferred from Oklahoma to USC. Alabama QB and Heisman Trophy winner Bryce Young was the QB for the preseason first team All-American. Williams beat Ohio State’s C.J. Stroud for the second team. Last year with the Sooners, Williams took over for Spencer Rattler and played the final seven games, throwing for 20 touchdowns during that time.

2020 UCLA Football

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Stating the obvious first: Losing USC and UCLA would be massive for the BIG Ten. Those two programs are excellent brands and two teams with the ability, resources, and recruiting power to compete at a prominent level. The Pac-12 take a step back as they ponder what is next. They cannot replace the brands of USC and UCLA, so who can they add that moves the needle?


The first move for commissioner George Kliavkoff should be to shore up the ten remaining members. Is expansion necessary, or could the Pac-12 remain at 10 for the time being? If expansion is necessary, the conference could look to programs like Boise State, BYU, Houston, Oklahoma State, or Kansas to bolster the membership. Boise State and BYU are strong football brands. Kansas is strong in basketball, while Houston and Oklahoma State have top programs in basketball and football.

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S.K. Patrick is a sports journalist from Louisville, Ky with over 5 years of sports journalism experience. Patrick graduated from the University of Louisville with his BA in mass communications and a minor in marketing. Patrick has been part of Louisville's local sports community for several years. He’s a former high school football player and little league football coach. Patrick has covered press conferences and games for U of L’s Sports Information Office. He now covers the ACC, along with Western Kentucky University and the University of Cincinnati. He has reported on Rick Pitino, Bobby Petrino, Jimbo Fisher, Roy Williams, Mike Krzyzewski, and many others. Professionally he has covered the NFLPA Collegiate Bowl and the NFL Scouting Combine.

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