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What UCLA, USC Move to Big Ten Means for College Football

  • UCLA and USC's reported move to the Big Ten could precipitate two "Super Leagues" in FBS football.
  • There's also a question of whether its time for Power conferences to finally break off from the NCAA.
Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday afternoon, multiple reports confirmed that USC and UCLA will soon join the Big Ten. 

The college sports world is awaiting the official announcements, but the future of FBS football seems clear: Two “Super League” Power conferences built from the foundations of the SEC and Big Ten.

The Big Ten will gain two marquee football brands, expanding its reach — and television market presence — from coast to coast. According to The Mercury News, which first broke the story, the conference plans to attempt to add more schools. 

Last year, the SEC solidified its fate as a “Super League” by announcing it would add Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12. 

Between the powerhouse schools and the gargantuan media rights, the Big Ten and SEC are pulling away from the other Power 5 conferences. 

  • The SEC already had a blockbuster, $3 billion deal before it added Texas and Oklahoma.
  • The Big Ten, which is in the process of negotiating its media rights now, was believed to get up to $1 billion annually before USC and UCLA were in the picture.
  • Now, UCLA and USC alone might garner $100 million each year from Big Ten media rights, per The Mercury News.

Maybe it’s finally time for Power 5 conferences to break away from the NCAA. 

The FBS football championship is run by the College Football Playoff, a non-NCAA entity anyway. And the amount of money flowing through Power 5 football has gotten many wondering whether players should still be called “amateurs” — or whether a separate league could call them employees and pay them salaries.

There is some momentum behind this idea. The Knight Commission, a college sports reform group, published a survey in 2020 that suggested major interest in a Power 5 breakaway. 

But now, there’s uncertainty not only about whether the NCAA retains the Power 5 conferences, but whether they’ll all still exist after this next round of realignment. 

Will they fortify themselves? Will they get picked apart, circa the 2013 Big East?

The Pac-12 may not survive like the Big 12 did after it lost Texas and Oklahoma. The Action Network reported that the Big 12 wants Utah, Colorado State, Arizona, and/or Arizona State

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Jan 4, 2006; Pasadena, CA, USA: FILE PHOTO; Southern California Trojans running back Reggie Bush (5) in action against the Texas Longhorns during the 2006 Rose Bowl at the Rose Bowl. The Longhorns defeated the Trojans 41-38. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Network

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