USC, UCLA Join Big Ten as Superconferences Move Closer to Reality
Just about a year after Oklahoma and Texas shocked the college football world with their announcements about leaving the Big 12 for the SEC, USC and UCLA have made a similar move. The two California schools will be joining the Big Ten in 2024 after their applications were unanimously accepted on Thursday.
And the conference may not be done.
Hours after the announcement was made and the PAC-12 became another scrambling victim of conference expansion, Oregon and Washington applied for membership in the Big Ten as well.
They have apparently been told that further expansion is on hold as the conference (along with the rest of the country) waits on an answer from Notre Dame-- the historically independent powerhouse who has prior relationships with many schools in the conference as well as the ACC and PAC-12.
Other teams that are reportedly in consideration according to Sports Illustrated are Stanford, Cal, Utah, and Colorado, although there have been no reports of applications from those universities.
It should be noted that, currently, to become a member of the Big Ten, schools need to also be a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).
Many speculate (Ok, it's more like reading the writing on the wall at this point) that this will usher in the era of superconferences as the NCAA deals with expansion and reform.
The primary superconference theory is that the SEC and Big Ten will become like the AFC and NFC in the NFL and bring in more members from the PAC-12, Big 12, ACC, and maybe some other small conferences. The superconferences would be considered a step above the remaining FBS teams (Most Power Five schools in the superconferences but some having to join the Group of Five).
Depending on which teams are taken in when the dust settles, we could be looking at a new conference filled with neglected Power Five teams, and I think this could also pave the way for a couple other FCS teams to move up a level.
We could see changes to the playoff system stemming from all this, but that's all speculation for now.
Regardless of where things end up, Thursday's announcement has officially changed college football as we know it. The Big Ten now has a presence in major markets on both coasts and has opened the door for superconferences to emerge.