College football realignment has led to a number of moves that have caused fans to raise eyebrows. Whether they seem a little weird or feature big name schools jumping from one major conference to the next, the last decade or two have featured gigantic shakeups in what conferences various universities call home.
On Thursday, we got perhaps the strangest news that we’ve gotten up to this point regarding schools joining a new conference. The two Los Angeles schools in the Pac-12, UCLA and USC, are leaving the conference to join the Big Ten, meaning they will eclipse Nebraska as the two westernmost institutions in the conference. The news comes via Jon Wilner of Pac-12 Hotline.
Source: USC and UCLA are planning to leave for the Big Ten as early as 2024. Move *has not been finalized* at the highest levels of power.
— Jon Wilner (@wilnerhotline) June 30, 2022
Ross Dellenger of Sports Illustrated confirmed the news.
A stunning but not all that surprising move: Teams are jockeying to get into the top two leagues of FBS – the SEC and B1G.
— Ross Dellenger (@RossDellenger) June 30, 2022
This is quite the strange alliance of schools, because while UCLA and USC are good academic institutions who field prominent athletic departments, the Big Ten accepting a pair of members this far outside of their geographic footprint is quite the move. It would mean that there will be conference games where teams (Rutgers, Maryland, etc.) will have to travel from one coast to the other, which is assuredly something the conference will need to get all sorted out — particularly for smaller, non-revenue sports.
There is no word on whether or not the conference will try to add more schools.