According to rumors first broken by Mercury News, UCLA and USC are in the process of leaving the Pac-12 Conference for the Big 10. The move would be a massive blow to the Pac-12, which has already faced numerous struggles in the past few years.
If true, the move would be completed in 2024, which gives the Conference some time to figure out their future. UCLA and USC are two of the biggest names in the conference, and there are no easy replacements waiting in the wings. Mountain West schools like Fresno State and San Diego State are perhaps the best option, but pale in comparison to the major Los Angeles schools.
If the departures go through, it will further concentrate power in the college sports ecosystem in a handful of megaconferences. With Texas and Oklahoma headed to the SEC in the near future it was natural for the Big 10 to respond, and this is just about the biggest response they could make.
The decision is not yet finalized. The biggest names being left behind in the Pac-12 will certainly make a case to the top brass at UCLA and USC about why they should stay. The University of Oregon and Phil Knight in particular will want to find a way to maintain the Ducks place as a top program, and Stanford will also not be content with being left behind.
The conference will need to find a way to revitalize the flagging Pac-12 Network; with a new media negotiation on the horizon losing the schools in America’s second largest media market would be disastrous.
Whatever happens, big changes are on the way for the Pac-12 Conference.