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NCAA conference realignments: Latest news, rumors, updates

USC and UCLA shook up the college football world over the summer with their moves to the Big Ten. What other conference realignments could be next?

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Josiah Norwood #14 of the UCLA Bruins during the Spring Football Showcase at Drake Track Stadium on the campus of UCLA in Los Angeles on Saturday, April 23, 2022. Photo by Keith Birmingham/MediaNews Group/Pasadena Star-News via Getty Images

It is looking like the landscape of college football is going to be largely changing in the near future. With conference realignment, a hot-button issue, the rumors that came out on Thursday, June 30th have fanned the flame even further. It was announced that USC and UCLA could be looking to move to the Big Ten as soon as 2024. It was then reported that it is basically a done deal and we can be looking for an official announcement in the next 24 hours, per Pete Thamel.

With Oklahoma and Texas already heading to the SEC, the dominoes are starting to fall for a huge re-alignment in college football. As the Pac-12 loses two core teams, the idea of conferences based on locations is going out the window. USC and UCLA would be joining a conference with teams in Nebraska, Michigan, Ohio and most notably New Jersey. This move opens the door for teams across the country to be in the same conference which has been largely unprecedented.

Latest news and rumors

August 22: Brett McMurphy of Action Network reported on Monday that Oregon has initiated preliminary discussions with the Big Ten about the possibility of the Ducks joining the conference. In the immediate aftermath of the B1G poaching USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 in June, it was speculated that Oregon and Washington could potentially follow suit to fortify a west coast wing for the conference.

The next major domino fell last week when the Big Ten announced a gargantuan, $7 billion media rights deal with Fox, CBS, and NBC. McMurphy is reporting that the deal has an escalator clause that could bump it up to $10 billion should the conference add even more teams. That’s where a national brand like Oregon would fit in.

What it means: Should this move materialize, one would imagine Washington, Stanford, or Cal would be next. The Pac-12 is trying to acquire a new media rights deal for 2024 but in this scenario, the league would experience a collapse not seen since the football wing of the Big East fell apart in the early 2010’s. Schools like Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah would immediately jump to the Big 12, leaving the likes or Oregon State and Washington State to fend for themselves.

July 5: Dennis Dodd of CBS is reporting that the Big 12 is in deep discussions to add up to six teams from the Pac-12 to the conference in the wake of the USC/UCLA news. Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado, and Utah are among the teams that are receiving strong consideration and the conference will reportedly leave the door open for Oregon and Washington if the Big Ten doesn’t scoop them up.

What it means: The Pac-12 would be on official life support if this were too happen and would most likely have to backfill with Mountain West schools to simply stay alive as a league. If you know an Oregon State or a Wazzu fan, please give them a big hug. They don’t deserve any of this happening to them.

Meanwhile, the Big 12 would solidify itself as the best of the “second tier” conferences in football behind the Big Ten and SEC. On the flip side, a league with membership in Arizona, Florida, Texas, and West Virginia will be an absolute nightmare from a logistics standpoint, especially when taking non-revenue sports into consideration.

The Conference of Champions responds:

What it means: “Thanks, jerks. Real classy.” Or something like that.

Now do we get a similar statement when Oregon and Washington join as well, and we’re back to having a Pac-8 for the first time since 1977?

What it means: Not sure why Dellenger couldn’t or wouldn’t use the words “Oregon” and “Washington,” much less any other institution that might be openly campaigning behind the scenes, but starting a West Division of the B1G would appear to make sense for all parties involved here.

The Pac-12 likely isn’t finished getting bludgeoned by a fellow member of its “strategic alliance” in plain sight. Et tu, Chicago?

With the official releases from USC and UCLA, we now know the schools are joining as full members of the Big Ten. That means two universities with hundreds of national championships in non-revenue sports will now each be commuting 20+ teams across the country.

What it means: At least for now, parking the “Olympic” sports in either the West Coast Conference or another league isn’t (publicly) on the table. So say whatever you’d like about how this deal affects the balance of power in collegiate athletics or how it came together, but here’s one thing we know for sure.

It’s going to take an awful lot of Tesla’s on the freeways of car-happy Los Angeles to make up for the huge amounts of carbon being burned via jet fuel for these teams to compete. Start planting some trees, SoCal. A lot of trees.

What it means: The Big Ten is set to make a lot of money, especially if Lincoln Riley’s effect is real. The Trojans will create some marquee matchups on the gridiron with the likes of Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State. UCLA will shine on the hardwood against the likes of Illinois, Wisconsin, Michigan State and Maryland. The Big Ten got better and bigger.

What it means: Remember five hours ago when Los Angeles wasn’t in the midwest? What a wild time that was indeed.

Also who knows when the rest of the AD’s and Presidents from the Big Ten knew this was coming, but it seems extremely dirty pool to spring this on their “strategic alliance” partner and hold the vote in less time than it would take to fly from B1G HQ in Chicago to LA.

And can someone explain if UCLA softball is going to be playing at Rutgers in four years? Because besides being really non-competitive on the diamond, that doesn’t make much sense for anyone.

What it means: The thing that every administrator in college athletics is whispering about on their way home from the NACDA convention in Vegas, but no one is reporting because it’s too soon to confirm everything, is how the ACC is going to handle all this.

Technically the 14 schools in the league have all signed a Grant of Rights through 2036. That means if a team leaves, they technically would lose all their TV revenue through that season. But like New Year’s resolutions and wrestling factions, GoR agreements were made to be broken.

RECKLESS SPECULATION: FSU, Miami, North Carolina, and potentially Clemson probably have university general counsel with contracts in one hand and a magnifying glass in the other presently. This could get wild.

What it means: It means UCLA AD Martin Jarmond and USC AD Mike Bohn, or USC President Carol Folt and UCLA Chancellor Gene Block, or all four of them, just straight up capped their conference under cover of darkness. This is some real gangster stuff, and Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren likely played the role of Tom Hagen.

This was all of 310 days ago.

This is some real Barbarians at the Gate stuff. Remember this the next time someone from the B1G talks about integrity in college athletics.

What it means: If the Big Ten is able to pick off two more schools, keeping the Olympic sports in the league seems much more likely. USC vs. Illinois volleyball games don’t make a lot of sense for anyone.

Also remember that “historic alliance” between the Pac-12, Big Ten, and ACC from all of 10 months ago? Imagine looking a man in his eye before stabbing him right in the heart. College athletics is one cold business.

What it means: This is something that’s made a lot of sense for some time. Kansas continuing to throw good money after bad trying to improve in football has proven a fruitless exercise unless they have a totalitarian dictator-player torturer in charge. KU made a terrific hire in Lance Leipold, and if anyone can get them fixed it’s the former Buffalo Bulls head man. But the long arc of Lawrence history bends towards sucking, and it might be the right move to just lean into the sport that dominates everything about the politics and culture of the state.

And since we’re going cross-continental already, would this be enough to get Gonzaga to jump on the Big East train as well? Mark Few in MSG every March would be simply wild.