LA Schools Stun Sports World Amid Big Ten Realignment

LA Schools Stun Sports World Amid Big Ten Realignment

Reid Waxman, Sports Editor

On June 30th, 2022, the UCLA Bruins and USC Trojans, storied athletic programs, decided to switch athletic conferences. Both schools were in the PAC-12 (Pacific Athletic Conference) and decided to move to the Big 10 (large school, predominantly mid-western conference) over money and competition.  The changes take effect at the start of the 2024-2025 season. 

USC and UCLA have always been flagship schools within the PAC-12. Even though the geographic features of the move to the Big 10 make little sense, the schools look to move because of how both schools are getting paid. Both schools will be getting $80 million dollars when they join and look to sign financially lucrative television contracts in the near future.    

Now, the move is being postponed to 2024 because of the existing television contracts both schools have with the PAC-12 conference. Those contracts expire in the 2023-2024 season, right when the schools would be eligible to join the Big 10. If both schools joined the conference, they would receive major financial penalties from their contracts. 

Fans of both schools despite how the games are in horrible time slots when the schools are in the PAC-12. Some games could be scheduled to late at night and then end somewhere past midnight. When they join the Big 10, both schools will get better coverage of the game and schedule the kickoff to be set at a reasonable time at night. 

Another reason why both schools chose to move is for the competition the Big 10 offers. As both were dominating in the Pac-12  in basketball and football, they chose to move to a more competitive athletic conference. First, let’s expand on USC. 

USC has many sports where they have been top in the country, football was a major one. Since they welcome newly former Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, many college recruits are coming to USC to be coached under Riley. Some of the notable college recruits are both five stars quarterback Malachi Nelson and wide receiver Zachariah Branch. 

TBS Freshman Ryan Smith thinks that the PAC-12 is going to collapse. This move Riley already perceived that USC was going to change athletic conferences.

“Lincoln Riley knew that the opportunity to play in the Big 10 was a better opportunity than the PAC-12. This single move confirms that the PAC-12 is bound to fall apart,” said Smith. 

Another sport where USC thrives is basketball. Now, the Big-10 is not a basketball-powered conference. There are some schools there that made the top 25 this year, such as Illinois (19), Purdue (10), and Wisconsin (14). Even though USC was not ranked in the top 25 last year, they still brought the talent to the court with the team they had. Their notable new recruits included  5-star center Vince Iwuchukwu.

While USC is a powerhouse in basketball and football, UCLA also thrives in the same sports. Starting off with football, they have senior quarterback Dorian Thompson-Robinson who looks to lead this team to greatness. With the many transfers, UCLA looks positively moving into the Big 12. 

Another sport where UCLA also excels is basketball. Even though USC brought in some great recruits, UCLA did better. Both 5 stars Amari Bailey and Adem Bona look to lead this team to another Final Four in March. Ranked 11th in basketball rankings, UCLA looks to get better.  With UCLA moving to the Big 12 soon, there is no doubt the UCLA basketball team will find a way to be at the top of the country. 

The next few years will be an interesting time for USC and UCLA.  The moves to change conferences for money and competition may prove to be rewarding despite being delayed for years to come.  Time will tell whether the Pac-12 or Big 10 will be the winner of this decision.