I’m not sure there’s been more surprising news since conference realignment started way back when than the news that broke this afternoon: USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten. Given both the geographic and cultural differences involved, it’s a wild turn of events.
But I suppose nothing can be a true shock in realignment anymore, not with the money involved. The Big Ten and SEC are in position to dominate the landscape for a long time to come, and the Pac-12 will just keep on lagging—a reality that prompted the LA schools to explore moving leagues.
The question now is whether or not dominoes begin falling in large numbers once again. The ACC’s member schools signed a grant-of-rights deal well into the 2030s which theoretically bars any of them from leaving, but let’s safely assume there’s nothing a school determined to leave can’t finagle its way out of.
Does the ACC also begin to erode, losing members to both the Big Ten and the SEC in the coming months or years? How advanced have discussions been elsewhere? The OU/Texas to the SEC and USC/UCLA to the Big Ten moves were basically kept successfully under wraps until they were done deals, which just makes me wonder what else might be pending.
The ACC’s pipe dream of adding Notre Dame in football almost certainly died today. It’s not just that the Big Ten can offer more lucrative membership perks, but now it has another of the Irish’s traditional rivals (USC) in the fold.
Without that hail mary for stability, it looks increasingly like we’re headed into another tenuous period for the ACC. Now we’ll find out of the league has a bold move of its own.