The Big 10 Gets Bigger
If you're a fan of the Big Ten, and why wouldn't you be, then the shocking news announced late this week had to get your heart racing. The fourteen school conference just added two powerhouse schools and they are now a coast to coast juggernaut.
UCLA and USC are now, starting in 2024, a part of the Big Ten. Talk about being blown away. Arguably the two biggest athletic programs in the PAC 12 decided to follow the huge money and come halfway across the country. The Big 10 is expected to wrap up their new TV contract by the end of July and it was expected to be in the neighborhood of $1 billion, and that was before these two schools jumped over to them. Industry experts now expect the TV deal to go up with this news.
The SEC is looking at a revised TV deal themselves, with Oklahoma and Texas joining the SEC, that could hit $1.3 billion. Just this past year the ACC, Big 12, and PAC 12 had a handshake agreement not to make any moves without discussing with the other schools first. Apparently a handshake doesn't mean what it once used to mean. (Just kidding, had my fingers crossed on that agreement.)
The Big 10 had to realign the conference into East and West a few years ago when they added Rutgers and Maryland who joined on the heels of Penn State and Nebraska just a few years before them. Now these two new additions create another weird split.
The schools in black above represent the East and the blue are in the West. You can see that Indiana is split into two with Indiana University in the East and Purdue out West. Adding USC and UCLA likely means that Illinois and Northwestern will be split moving forward. I'll guess and say Illinois goes to the East.
This could all change if more schools are added as there is now talk in NCAA land that this move could lead to the huge two super conference shake-up that was discussed five years ago. Are we headed for that? Probably not yet but it will be coming sooner rather than later.
USC, against the Big 10, in football is 75-30-3 since 1922 and in basketball they are only 31-32. UCLA, in the meantime, is average versus the Big 10 in football with a 48-42-3 record since 1928 but in basketball they dominate at 73-33. What about the other sports you ask? Well this should make the Big 10 teams gasp for air. USC has won 134 national titles while UCLA has 119 national titles to their name in what they now call Olympic sports.
I cannot impress on you enough how seismic this is for college sports and the Big 10. It was exciting when they added Penn State. It was interesting when they added Nebraska. It was a snore fest when they added Rutgers and Maryland. Adding USC and UCLA is gigantic. Having the Big Ten coast-to-coast means recruiting goes crazy, viewership numbers go through the roof, interest in Olympic sports increases, and the whole image of the Big 10 goes up.
The SEC is, rightly, considered a football powerhouse conference. They have made no bones about how they feel they are the best football in America, I'll give them about four good schools and the rest are average to below average. The addition of USC and UCLA now means that the Big 10 is going to be a dominant force in many sports.
Look at how the Northwestern Wildcats have been one of the top three teams in woman's lacrosse for the past ten years, and the Illinois golf program is considered one of the top ten golf schools in the nation. The Big 10 has really strong programs in gymnastics, volleyball, tennis, wrestling, swimming, and other sports. Adding the two Southern California schools will only enhance them.
This is a big day for the Big 10 and if you're a fan you have to feel pretty good right now.