First reported by Jon Wilner of Mercury News, UCLA and USC are planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as soon 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
This potential move is about revenue, branding and national prestige — everything the Pac-12 has been missing. It cannot be overstated how big the gulf is between the Big Ten and the Pac-12 on matters like TV deals and long-term financial planning. This move makes all kinds of sense if you take away things like tradition and geography.
It goes without saying that this is massive news for the Pac-12 and all other programs in the conference. Everything is now destabilized, probably losing two members who have been in the conference for 100 years, holding down the massive Los Angeles market. What will likely happen is that every program that can leave the Pac-12 will and whoever is left will struggle in a zombie conference. (Looking at you Cal.)
Not to bury the lede or anything, but the likely scenario is that the Colorado Buffaloes rejoin the Big 12, along with a few others from the Pac-12. The Big 12 just lost its brand ambassadors Texas and Oklahoma and have spent the last year adding in BYU, Cincinnati, Houston and UCF. It would make sense for them to try to grab as many quality programs as possible, targeting CU, Utah and Arizona.
From this shellshocked point of view, there would be a sizable gap between the New Big 12 and the New Big Ten and the New SEC. It’s too early to tell, but the direction is that the major conferences will become super leagues and the others will be a weird hodgepodge of leftover programs. I guess that’s how things are going and we should be fine with it as long as the Buffs aren’t left for dead.