Tuesday October 3, 2023

USC’s Transition To The Big Ten Will Be Lucrative, Challenging

  • USC kicks off its final season in the Pac-12 before moving to the Big Ten.
  • The Trojans have not made a College Football Playoff since it was started.
Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports
Front Office Sports Today

NBC Could Get In On College Football Playoffs

NBC is exploring broadcasting a slice of the expanded CFP in 2026.
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October 3, 2023 | Podcast
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This weekend, the USC Trojans officially start winding down a century-long tenure in the Pac-12 before their move to the Big Ten — with all the pressure and uncertainty that entails.

“There’s an excitement in the air,” former USC quarterback and new NBC analyst Matt Cassel told Front Office Sports ahead of Saturday’s Week 0 matchup with San Jose State. 

USC and UCLA — which kicks off its season Sept. 2 against Coastal Carolina in Pasadena — will receive full revenue shares from the Big Ten’s $1 billion annual media rights deals (Oregon and Washington will accept reduced shares) while facing much stiffer competition.

And while the Trojans have never made the College Football Playoff — which will pay conferences $6 million for each team that makes it this year — Big Ten teams have appeared eight times compared to the Pac-12’s two.

The Trojans are thinking playoffs, Cassel said, and “anything less than that will feel like it was a little bit of a letdown.”

Long Road Ahead

Off the field, the road gets literally longer. New USC athletics director Jen Cohen, who previously held the position at Washington, will now navigate thousands of additional miles of cross-country travel for conference games — 15,000 miles roundtrip during USC’s inaugural Big Ten season.

Some around college football have raised concerns about the added travel’s impact on the well-being of athletes, particularly in non-revenue sports. But Cassel is bullish on more Rose Bowl-style matchups like USC-Ohio State on a consistent basis. 

“Now you’re going to get to see them in a regular season,” Cassel said, pointing to the Big Ten’s dissolvement of divisions, which will provide more varied gameday scenarios.

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