The college football world has been turned upside down once again, this time from the heartland’s grab at the two most identifiable west coast universities, USC and UCLA. The Big Ten is all set to move to 16 teams with both the Trojans and Bruins being a part of all the fun beginning in 2024.
Before that though, there are some things that need to be hammered out. There are all kinds of logistical and cultural issues that have been engrained in the Big Ten and Pac-12, not the least of which is a sea-to-shining sea of land between the furthest east and west schools now in the Big Ten’s footprint.
We decided to pick out five things that are some significant hurdles and stumbling blocks that the Big Ten will need to work out prior to bringing the two teams onboard to share with you. We’re sure it’ll all work itself out in some form or another, but here are five major issues that everyone with suits and wallets will have to address prior to the Big Ten getting all the kinks out of the proverbial hose before 2024.
Travel, travel, and more travel
Apr 16, 2020; Los Angeles, CA, USA: The entrance to Los Angeles International Airport (LAX) amid the global coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY NETWORK
Going across the country every so often is a novelty in today’s world of college football. With money now running almost everything and conferences going outside of their traditional footprint, that’s going to change. It certainly will when USC and UCLA begin play in the conference for 2024.
How will it all work? There has to be consideration given for the fairness of travel and matchups. You don’t want the same teams always flying out west, and USC and UCLA are going to have to get used to traveling long distances on average every other week.
And while that might be more palatable in a sport like football that is played once per week, what about the other sports? The travel budget and logistical stuff that goes with moving bodies and scheduling events are going to be a lot more to deal with than before.
— USC Trojans Wire (@TrojansWire) July 4, 2022
Similarly, making fair schedules is going to be a big challenge. Instead of conference games now being more regional, this is all going to start to look more and more like professional league travel like the NBA, NFL, or MLB.
We’ve already touched on football, but does it make sense for other sports that play more than one time to do back-to-back games within a few days and rotate the location every other year?
For football, how do you balance the power? Do you stay with divisions or scrap them altogether? Who plays who, and what matchups should be protected?
There’s a lot to iron out. Thankfully, there’s some time to work together and get it done.
What happens to the Rose Bowl?
Jan 6, 2014; Pasadena, CA, USA; An exterior view of the Rose Bowl stadium prior to the game between the Florida State Seminoles and the Auburn Tigers in the 2014 BCS National Championship game at the Rose Bowl. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
The Grandaddy of Them All has gone through changes before, but this latest move is more than likely going to be the biggest shift in the iconic game we’ve seen to date. Of course, the Pac-12 could survive in some way, shape or form and the same arrangement could be in place, but that might not be able to happen as other teams scramble to find a seat at the table during all of this reshuffling of teams.
USC and UCLA are two of the top five participants in Pasadena, but now they’ll be representing the Big Ten. So, what will happen with the Rose Bowl? It’s still the Bruins home stadium, and you have to figure that the stadium at the foothills of the San Gabriel mountains will factor into the College Football Playoff rotation, but change is afoot and there will have to be new contracts, affiliations, and more worked through.
Might we see some Big Ten championship games among the roses? Hmmm …
How will USC feel about existing alongside Ohio State?
Sep 7, 2019; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans white horse mascot Traveller during the game against the Stanford Cardinal at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. USC defeated Stanford 45-20. Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports
It’s no secret that Ohio State is in the driver’s seat when it comes to shaping the Big Ten. Sorry Michigan, that ship sailed long ago. OSU turns on television sets, has a massive following, churns out NFL players with the best of them, and rakes in the revenue.
USC is the flag-bearer for the Pac-12 and is used to pulling its big boy pants up and being the Alpha dog of the conference. That has waned a bit in recent years with the downturn of the football program and with the rise of Oregon and others, but the Trojan program is still king residing in the L.A. market and all the historical success.
Money-wise, it makes sense for USC to make this move, but culturally and historically, it’ll take a backseat to Ohio State when it comes large shadow that looms on the banks of the Olentangy. Can everyone play nice in the conference expansion sandbox?
I have the same questions about Texas in the SEC too by the way.
The shift in recruiting?
Oregon might still compete with USC for recruits in Southern California, but now Ohio State and Michigan will have a bigger recruiting foothold in SoCal. Uh-oh, Ducks. https://t.co/ZriN40cefl
— USC Trojans Wire (@TrojansWire) July 2, 2022
It’ll be interesting to see how this all impacts recruiting. Not only when it comes to USC and UCLA, but also the Big Ten in general. Schools like Ohio State and Michigan have had some modest success in cherry-picking kids from California, but most other schools have more or less stayed in and around their footprint.
With the ability to go into living rooms out west and sell the fact that a kid could still be potentially traveling back to California every so often, it might sway a kid to try the cold and distance of a team in the Big Ten.
Likewise, UCLA and USC can probably extend their recruiting footprint even more and be knocking on the doors of recruiting hotbed places like Chicago, New York/New Jersey, Ohio, and more.
On the downside, a kid staying home to play in Los Angeles for USC and UCLA now means they will be traveling multiple times across the country to play. Some parents and recruits might not like that as much.
You never know where these things are going to go, but we’ll have to keep an eye on this along with NIL and other things that are changing swiftly in college football to see where kids end up going.
Either way, it’s something various recruiting staff will have to adjust to.
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