As it currently stands, college football features five power conferences. That could be changing in the near future.
According to reports, traditional rivals USC and UCLA are planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten no later than 2024. The move has not been finalized, with more details expected in the coming weeks.
The Trojans were rumored to be interested in leaving the conference last fall, though no decisions were made at the time. The Bruins have since joined the conversation over the past several months.
This move would mark the second major shakeup in conference realignment in the past 12 months. Last July, Texas and Oklahoma jointly announced its intent to leave the Big 12 in favor of the SEC no later than 2025. As a corresponding move, the Big 12 added BYU, Central Florida, Cincinnati and Houston — all of whom are set to join on July 1, 2023.
Should the Big Ten finalize the addition of the two Los Angeles-based programs, the league would join the SEC as the second power conference with 16 teams.
The SEC, with the addition of the Sooners and Longhorns, haven't announced where to keep the two-division setup or adopt another scheduling format for football, such as a pod system.
According to Sports Illustrated's Ross Dellenger, The Big Ten created an expansion committee and has spent several months discussing the possibility of adding more teams.
“Something was going to happen to combat the Texas and Oklahoma move,” The source tells SI.com.
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With UCLA and USC, the Big Ten would drastically change the dynamics of geographical location in terms of conference alignment. For decades, conferences have often relied heavily on location to establish membership. The move of Texas and Oklahoma to the SEC makes geographic sense.
Should the move be finalized, the conference stretches from coast-to-coast. The Big Ten has a presence on the East Coast with Maryland, Penn State and Rutgers, in addition to its traditional base in the Midwest with heavyweights such as Ohio State and Michigan.
Earlier this month in an interview with The Oregonian, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff said he wasn't concerned that any program in the conference would leave for the Big Ten despite rumors.
"We had the opportunity when conference realignment was going on last summer to canvas our president and chancellors and it is clear to me that everyone who’s in the Pac-12 is committed to the Pac-12," Kliavkoff said. "I’m not worried about that. We’re not looking to expand; we had lots of opportunities to expand. We’re really happy at 12.”
Options remain should the Pac-12 lose two of its flagship programs. Among those moves, the league could revert to the Pac-10 for the first time since 2011. It also look to add schools from either other Power 5 conferences or Group of Five leagues. Joining forces with another conference, such as the reconstructed Big 12, is also a possibility.
FanNation.com will continue to keep you up to date on the move and potential fallout of the decision in the coming weeks.
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