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Winners and Losers of Southern Cal’s Move to Big Ten

Southern Cal

The pendulum of momentum took a big swing today as the University of Southern California tonight formally announced it would be joining the Big Ten in 2024.

With this historic moment in its infancy, here are some rapid reactions of who are the winners and losers in this move.

Winners

Big Ten Conference – The league adds Los Angeles to its TV Market portfolio. It strengthens its negotiating power in media and rights deals for TV and Streaming. It adds a brand equal to or even greater than what Oklahoma and Texas bring to the SEC. Athletics, the Big Ten, adds a school with the 3rd most overall NCAA Division I Championships with 111 in school history and 6 of the Top 20 schools in NCAA Division I Championships. Southern Cal’s football reputation proceeds with 11 National Championships, 39 Conference Championships, and 7 Heisman Trophy winners. With Lincoln Riley joining the Trojans, it will add more cache and spice to potentially add 2 Big Ten teams to the College Football Playoff.

USC Football and Athletics – The Pac-12 reported last week in 2021 that the conference earned revenue of 2021 $344 million. This is a stark contrast to what the SEC ($833 million) and Big Ten ($583 million)  The Big Ten, USC’s new home last season, distributed between $43 million and $49 million to its schools; USC received 55% less than the previous Big Ten school received  The economics drove this decision and with a new Big Ten contract on the horizon, there will be more money into the facilities.

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Big Ten teams add California Pipeline – Ohio State has leveraged California decently over the last decade, and other schools have dabbled out west when they saw an opportunity. Now with Southern Cal in the Big Ten, it is a new state where Big Ten coaches can now you can come home, play a game at USC and then compete in the league.

Whoever wins the Media Contract – Early indications are FOX is close to renewing its media rights agreement for Big Ten content. Look for big pushes from NBC and CBS, losing the SEC to ESPN. A dark horse has entered the race as Apple has re-engaged the Big Ten for media rights. Whoever closes the Big Ten will have USC, Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin content to air.

Elite Recruits – If you think the NIL money was insane for elite recruits going to Big Ten schools like CJ Stroud’s cars or potentially what Jordan Addison made to transfer to USC, it will exponentially get bigger. These kids’ brands will be featured in the four largest markets in the United States (#1 NYC, #2 Los Angeles, #3 Chicago, #4 Philadelphia), and there is high value and potentially high return for all parties involved.

Losers

Pac-12 Conference – If Texas and Oklahoma were a death nail or felt like it for the Big XII, the undertaker already has the casket shutting for the Pac-12. The only brand that is even remotely close to USC is Oregon. I feel it is history & tradition in USC versus modern branding with the Nike vehicle in Oregon. Once you leave those two schools, you have good football in Utah, Stanford, Washington, and Washington State, but it doesn’t have national appeal or the ability to compete with the SEC or Big Ten regularly.

Rose Bowl Tradition – Throughout this ordeal of all the bowl alliances, coalitions, playoffs, etc., the Rose Bowl has made caveats to both the Pac-12 and Big Ten to host a bowl game. It is not only the longest tradition in the sport but also the birth and the genesis of post-season football, dating back to 1902. The news of USC jumping to the Big Ten accelerates the end of this tradition of both conferences. What would have been Rose Bowl games will be Big Ten conference games.

Pacific Northwest (PNW) Football – The news tonight put PNW football on a death bed. As the nationalizing of conferences is happening, this is another region that most likely will bite the dust. It is also a disturbing trend of regional football dying throughout the country, except for the southeast.

Pac-12 After Dark – There will still be some semblance of it for the College Football East Coast Fanatics who put on the conference brand of football as a nightcap. Losing brands like USC hurt the value of airing conference games. While we might get Big Ten After Ten now, it doesn’t have the same feel.

Mid-Tier Teams – Much like the news when Texas and Oklahoma joined the SEC, while diehards in Starkville, Nashville, and Columbia may have been boasting “SEC! SEC! SEC!” the realization is it is another Saturday that your squad will get drummed by the newest blueblood on the block  It is becoming a point of when would mid-tier teams win a championship  For most mid-tier programs, it is that one out five years or so winning a conference championship and going to the big bowl game that keeps interest high  Now when you are getting pushed further and further back in your conference, how is that going to impact fan morale or team support  Conversely how many folks in Los Angeles are dying to see Rutgers or Maryland show up to the Coliseum?

Big XII and ACC – The news tonight put those conferences on high alert; that is how major college athletics will most likely break down into two super-conferences: Big Ten and SEC. Neither one will be those. It will be interesting to see where traditional and middle powers go in these conferences and what the leftovers do for homes.

Wild Card

Notre Dame
With the news of Southern Cal joining the Big Ten, is it in Notre Dame’s best football interests to be associated with the ACC?

With the money about to explode and the ability for the Big Ten to expand its brand onto another network (NBC), it could be a win-win for everybody.

If you ask Notre Dame fan, a schedule with Southern Cal, Michigan, Michigan State, Purdue, and then a rotation of Penn State, Ohio State, Nebraska, and Wisconsin is far more attractive than playing Georgia Tech, North Carolina, Virginia, or Syracuse.