I bet you didn’t then he had it in him.
After a shaky first couple of years on the beat, Kevin Warren shocked the sporting world when news leaked about USC & UCLA potentially joining the Big Ten Conference earlier this afternoon.
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
It’s a seismic shift, which would have the conference hopping the mountain time zone and straight the West Coast in their expansion efforts. As many have postulated on Twitter, perhaps this backroom dealing is what delayed the previously expected May television deal for the conference from ever being announced.
After Wilner’s reports, everyone started spilling the tea, with Nicole Auerbach being particularly funny with her premise:
High-level Big Ten folks have been cagey & locked down since dinner time yesterday. Was told there was a meeting with ADs and presidents last night.— Nicole Auerbach (@NicoleAuerbach) June 30, 2022
Now we know why. They're talking to USC & UCLA about them joining the Big Ten: https://t.co/vutSRzI3AL
Geography aside, UCLA & USC tick the boxes as AAU-accredited universities. They have vaunted histories with USC’s football and UCLA’s basketball being historic blue bloods (even if recent results leave something to be desired). They open up pipelines to alumni in the area.
I examined the metro areas where Big Ten alums live a few years ago. There were only 4 markets that had at least 1% of the alums from all of the Big Ten schools... and none were in the Midwest (even Chicago). They were NYC, DC, LA... and San Francisco.https://t.co/lxgTxnhTHi— Frank the Tank (@frankthetank111) June 30, 2022
Perhaps most importantly, it has everybody else on the heels as college sports barrel towards super conferences.
This was a point I co-opted 11 months ago from Jon Miller in the aftermath of Texas and Oklahoma bolting for the SEC. It makes even more sense as the Big Ten is in the midst of their television rights negotiations with basically every non-ESPN network. A positively 1900s idea I saw, which still carries weight in today’s media environment, would be the conference owning FOX’s BIG NOON SATURDAY, CBS’ slot vacated by the SEC, and potentially NBC’s primetime slot.
That is a whole lot more enticing when you’ve got a fourth blue-ish blood (OSU, Michigan, Penn State, & USC) instead of trying to peddle Rutgers-Northwestern to the masses.
Jon Wilner, the guy who initially broke the news, has sources who says not to assume the conference is done and I threw out my idea to 20 on Twitter.
The next four should be Notre Dame, UNC, Duke, Kansas. Get all the non-SEC powers + hoard basketball blue bloods.— Harrison (@HD_starr) June 30, 2022
(Big Ten 1: OSU, Michigan, Penn State, USC, Notre Dame, Wisconsin, Michigan State, Iowa, Northwestern, Nebraska)
(Big Ten 2: Minnesota, Illinois, Rutgers, Maryland, Purdue, Indiana, UNC, Duke, Kansas, UCLA)
(Tell me you won’t watch every Nebraska game cheering for their relegation that first season)
Realistically, we are probably looking at Oregon & Washington (hilariously the only two Pac-12 teams to make the college football playoff) and probably some additional Pac-12 flotsam. As the tweet above references, there are alumni in the Bay Area which might give Stanford (ok!) and Cal (ok.) a pathway into the conference.
Where does it stop? What does it look like? How do you feel?