By RJ Young
FOX Sports College Football Writer
It Big Ten just got a lot bigger. On Thursday, several outlets reported USC and UCLA has initiated contact with the Big Ten about possible membership in a 14-school conference.
Later that day, the president and chancellor of the Big Ten unanimously voted to allow two of the West Coast’s largest branded schools into the conference, increasing its membership to 16—an insignificant number.
Both schools later issued official statements confirming the move.
The SEC will also increase its membership to 16 by 2025 following last year’s vote to allow Oklahoma and Texas to join.
What does all this mean for schools, conferences, and the College Football Playoffs?
Let’s destroy it.
USC, UCLA to join the Big Ten
FOX Sports’ RJ Young reacted to news that USC and UCLA would be leaving the Pac-12 for the Top Ten in 2024.
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What does that mean for USC and UCLA?
This is an extraordinary move for the Trojans and Bruins, two programs that have long carried the flag for the Pac-12.
Whether it’s the Trojans Pete Carroll during the mid-2000s or the Bruins of the John Wooden dynasty, Los Angeles schools have been pillars on the West Coast for decades.
Now, with Lincoln Riley at USC and Chip Kelly at UCLA, quality play against blue-blooded opponents, a big brand that will stretch from College Park, Maryland, and New Brunswick, New Jersey, to South Central LA.
What’s more, in every living room on the continental US, Riley and Kelly would be able to not only recruit but also sell the opportunity for a family not to have to travel all this way, if they lived in the southeast or on the East Coast, to attend a game.
It also means the Trojans and Bruins join forces in what I believe is definitely the second best conference among Power 5, but it won’t last long. Because …
What does that mean for the Top Ten?
The Big Ten have killed the idea of Power 5. Now there are only two conferences. All praise the SEC and B1G.
It’s not just the SEC adding Oklahoma and Texas or the Big Ten adding USC and UCLA. It is also reasonable to believe that the two conferences could be responsible for as many as 20 of the Associated Press and/or Top 25 CFP selection committees.
Combined, the two conferences will account for 32 teams and nearly 25% of all FBS programs by 2025, when OU and Texas are scheduled to enter the SEC. That’s a very large number.
Trust that the Pac-12, Big 12 and ACC have done that calculation too. Their programs may appear to leave their respective conferences for greener pastures than the SEC or the Big Ten.
But if there’s one particular school that might also want to make the jump to the Top Ten, it’s Notre Dame. It’s not just the Irish on the B1G trail; it was also that they would be joining rival USC and that there had never been a better time to be a member of the premier conference in the Midwest.
While ND has staked its legacy on being independent and has built a football schedule that is more like a barnstorming tour, the Big Ten will give Ireland the chance to make an annual trip to the West Coast, playing Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin every other year and still having space to schedule Alabama — or the State of Alabama — so they reach their respective alumni markets.
What does that mean for the Pac-12?
The heights Oregon reached in beating Ohio State in Columbus were shattered when the Ducks lost to Stanford on the road and Utah doubled it twice in three weeks. The Utes (10-4), who never entered the CFP picture in 2021, followed a Pac-12 championship win with a (but thrilling) Rose Bowl loss to the Ohio State team that Oregon had beaten on the road.
However, with USC out of season 4-8, the signing of Lincoln Riley by athletic director Mike Bohn acted as a bright light after a mediocre Pac-12 season. Riley brought with him the many assistants who helped him and Oklahoma reach three CFP semifinals in five years, plus a Cotton Bowl win.
Riley has also lured superstars such as quarterback Caleb Williams and wide receiver Jordan Addison to USC. But the Pac-12 will never get the chance to bask in the light of revitalized USC—or UCLA, for that matter—even if the Trojans and Bruins become the two best teams in the Pac-12’s first season. without division.
What does that mean for CFPs?
Expansion, expansion, expansion.
By 2025, a four-team playoff could mean two teams from the Top Ten and two teams from the SEC or—worse still—three teams from one of those conferences. While college football has never been fair and equality among FBS schools is a dream few would wish for, most would admit that concentration of talent and no underdogs to root for would be bad for the sport’s growth.
No matter how much you believe Cincinnati deserves a CFP invite, this program is becoming the first Group 5 team to receive one thing that matters to non-powered players, families and fans who want to believe their team can come once-in-a – season of a lifetime and get a chance to play for the national title.
I believe even members of the SEC and the Big Ten understand the value of playoff tournaments, even if we would end up with Georgia and Alabama playing for the national title again.
RJ Young is a national college football writer and analyst for FOX Sports and a podcast host “Performances Ranked #1 1 with RJ Young.” Follow him on Twitter at @RJ_Youngand subscribe”Young RJ Show” on YouTube. He’s not on StepMill.
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What USC, UCLA to Top Ten mean for schools, conferences, CFP
Source link What USC, UCLA to Top Ten mean for schools, conferences, CFP