UCLA, USC Communities Not In Favor of Move to Big Ten, Pac 12 Commissioner Says

Scott Polacek@@ScottPolacekFeatured Columnist IVOctober 26, 2022

Los Angeles, CA - November 20:  USC wide receiver That Washington, right, UCLA defensive back Cameron Johnson deflect a pass in the first quarter at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in Los Angeles on Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

Pac-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff believes USC and UCLA leaving the conference will be an unpopular decision.

"I think saying hundreds would be an exaggeration—dozens, more than a hundred," Kliavkoff said when talking about discussions he has had with people connected to the programs, per Myron Medcalf of ESPN. "And I have yet to talk to anyone in the UCLA and USC community who's in favor of the move. I will say that I probably hear from folks who are not in favor, not surprisingly."

As Medcalf noted, the Trojans and Bruins will become members of the Big Ten in 2024 as the landscape of college sports continues to change with conference realignment that will also see Texas and Oklahoma join the SEC from the Big 12 in July 2025.

While Kliavkoff is a biased source who would clearly benefit from the two major brands staying inside the conference, there is something to be said for the difficulties it will present.

USC and UCLA will be in for multiple long road trips in football, basketball and other sports as they travel to places such as Penn State, Maryland and Ohio State. The Big Ten is also based in the Midwest and operates its high-profile conference championships and tournaments in cities such as Indianapolis and Chicago.

USC and UCLA will also lose some long-standing rivalries within the Pac-12 as they play new schedules.

Kliavkoff suggested expenses that come from additional traveling and salaries with the move to the Big Ten will counteract the gains available from a financial standpoint, but Medcalf noted reports say "UCLA will reap an eight-figure gain annually" with the move.

Thuc Nhi Nguyen of the Los Angeles Times pointed out the Pac-12's "archaic TV deal" has hamstrung powerhouse programs from a financial perspective, with the conference giving $33.6 million to each school in 2019-20 when the Big Ten gave an average of $49.2 million to its schools in that same period.

The gap figures to only grow, considering the Big Ten agreed to a new television rights contract with CBS, Fox, NBC, NBCUniversal's Peacock, Big Ten Network and FS1 in August. It will start in July 2023 and run through the 2029-30 season and give the conference between $7 billion and $8 billion.

Escalators could even bring the value to $10 billion.

Money talks, and USC and UCLA are headed to the Big Ten even if some within the Pac-12 wish it wasn't happening.