USC Trojans, UCLA Bruins to join Big Ten by 2024
July 1, 2022
In the wake of both Texas and Oklahoma’s decision of leaving the SEC last summer, the power conference reorganization continues having the USC Trojans and UCLA Bruins reportedly set to be joining the Big Ten by 2024, as sports pundit Jon Wilner announced Thursday this week.
The announcement was a shocker to many since the move will not only affect college basketball, but also the entire college sports landscape. One of which is the Big Ten will now have 11 or the most national title holders in the NCAA for the men’s basketball team.
Other weaker teams such as Arizona’s men and women and Stanford’s women’s basketball team will be forced to witness a less dominant conference following the move.
Future implications of conference reorganization
The degree of the move will be massive. For example, take the departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12, the conference is left with a huge hole that requires to be filled. If the same were to take place to either Duke and North Carolina leaving the ACC or to Alabama and Auburn in the SEC, the aftermath would likely change the entire conference for the worst.
Aside from that, there is also a huge historical impact of college basketball in the Big Ten. Many came to argue that the conference will likely be a place dominated by both the Trojans and Bruins. The duo would likely pose a huge threat to Michigan State and Indiana.
“In the meantime, the collateral damage to college athletics overall is mind-boggling. As is the short-term thinking at UCLA and USC. And, while we're at it, say good night to the Pac-12 as we knew it,” ESPN’s Joe Lunardi said.
As to how both USC and UCLA could fit in the Big Ten, the programs will significantly increase the conference when it comes to power rankings compared to others. The Big Ten is a regular second or third position as the best conference in the country.
The conference has accumulated a total of nine tournament bids over the past two seasons, and UCLA could help to add another and help maintain its consistency throughout each season. USC could also be able to contribute the exact achievements for a few years ahead, considering the program’s recruiting game was spot thus far.
“I think the fit is a huge boost for the Big Ten's brand. UCLA and USC will add some sexiness to the league. Combining Los Angeles with the Midwest, bringing sunshine to a cold-weather league during the grind of conference play? That's a win,” Jeff Borzello said.
“The geographical implications will have an impact on the recruiting trail for Big Ten schools. It will be easier for those schools to go into California, to go to the West Coast and get players -- or at least it will open up those avenues a bit more.”
There were huge expectations put on both UCLA and USC this year. The former was ranked No. 1 in ESPN’s recruiting class of 2022, while the latter follows close by.
“While the loss of USC and UCLA is certainly not ideal, there are signs of life elsewhere to suggest that the Pac-12 women's basketball scene can thrive should the likes of the Oregon schools, Arizona, Utah and Colorado pick up the slack,” women’s college basketball sports analyst Alexa Philippou said.
Philippou holds that while the move was not ideal, particularly for the women’s basketball scene, some of the Pac-12 programs can fill in the void left by both USC and UCLA — and also thrives in the wake of the departure of the two.