The sports world is generally very quiet leading into the month of July. Unless you are a die hard baseball fan or into the world of competitive eating, the news in the football world is usually fairly quiet. UCLA and USC are about to change all of that. In what can only be considered a response to Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC, it looks like USC and UCLA will become the 15th and 16th members of the Big 10 conference. That would immediately give the college football world two 16 team conferences. Gone are the days of the power 5 conference. This is situation now becomes, two superpower conferences, three power conferences, and everybody else. And Notre Dame.
Media Markets Matter
Let’s take a look at why this is a win for the Big 10. Both UCLA and USC have the AAU Accreditation that the Big 10 holds in high regard. Yes, Nebraska lost that accreditation, but they did have it when they joined the Big 10. Adding USC and UCLA gives the Big 10 the three biggest media markets in the country. It’s pretty clear that the Big 10 added in Rutgers to gain the New York market. They already had the Chicago market (3rd biggest market in the US) with Northwestern and Illinois. Now adding in USC and UCLA gives the very valuable media market of Los Angeles (2nd biggest in the US). In the new day of NIL and college athletes being paid for their likeness, media markets definitely matter. USC and UCLA joining in, gives them a wider reach of their players throughout the country. This is for sure a win/win situation for all involved in the deal. Even with most of their games starting after 10pm eastern, USC and UCLA had multiple football games that had an rating around a 1.0 or more. The additional viewers would benefit all universities in the conference.
History between USC/UCLA and the Big 10
Now to the sports portion of the deal. This move makes sense due to the history of the Big 10 and the Pac 12 in the Rose Bowl. Imagine not having to wait around till January to see USC and Ohio St. play each other. Or Michigan having to host UCLA at night in the Big House. Yes, the travel would be tough on some schools (Looking at you Maryland and Rutgers). But these things happen when you move into the professional leagues. It’s a level of preparation for the travel schedule of the NFL and NBA. Each university has something that they can hang their reputation on. USC has multiple football national championships and UCLA is one of the blue blood programs in basketball. Both of these universities are highly respected in a variety of fields. It’s a little shocking that the Big 10 didn’t go after Oregon with their Nike connection, but UCLA and USC are not consolation prizes. These are big wins for the Big 10 to keep up with the SEC. The real question now becomes how does the Pac 12 and the ACC respond? Does Notre Dame finally join the ACC in Football? Does the Pac 12 add in Fresno St, Boise St. or Nevada? It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. But the Big 10 has really responded to the moves of the SEC.