It was a wild day for the Big Ten on Thursday and will be known as a landscape-shifting day in all of college athletics.
News broke in the early afternoon on Thursday that the Big Ten would add USC and UCLA as new members of the conference. It was officially confirmed by the conference hours later, with the two California schools making a massive jump to join the Big Ten. The Trojans and Bruins will officially join the league in 2024.
The news of adding new teams to the league shouldn’t come as a surprise but USC and UCLA being those teams were definitely out of leftfield. So what it does it mean for the league and Michigan State? Here are three initial thoughts on the massive move for the Big Ten in adding the Trojans and Bruins.
Move will get mixed reviews but I love it
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If you are someone who still considers the Big Ten as a primarily midwestern league, then adding a pair of teams from southern California won’t sit well with you. But if you are someone like me who is looking ahead to where major college athletics is heading then you’ll love this move for the Big Ten.
Conference expansion has in a lot of ways ruined the traditional rivalries and matchups that we’ve grown up loving. And while that is disappointing for many fans (including myself), conference expansion is only going to reeve up from here. So with that being said, this is a major move for the Big Ten.
Adding USC and UCLA expands the footprint of the league and turns the Big Ten into a country-wide conference. That is needed to compete with the SEC after they added Oklahoma and Texas last year. Not only is the move expanding the footprint but it is adding one of the most prestigious football programs in USC and one of the most prestigious basketball programs in UCLA.
Everything suggests we are heading to super conferences at this point so I credit the Big Ten for being ahead of it and grabbing a pair of big-time programs before it’s too late.
Lopsided Big Ten football divisions will be corrected or potentially removed
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The Big Ten East and West Divisions have been so lopsided ever since they were created that this move will either help adjust that or may result in the elimination of them.
Should the Big Ten keep the divisions (and not add anymore schools), then we will see USC and UCLA boost the West Division and give it a little bit more punch at the top. Additionally, I think we’ll see someone like Purdue get shifted to the East Division to join rival Indiana.
What I really think will happen, though, is that this move will end the Big Ten divisions and we will see some form of pods created. If it remains at 16 teams as it is going to be now, then there’s a good chance we’ll see four pods of four teams and the official elimination of divisions.
Either way, this is good news for Michigan State fans that have openly complained about the lopsided divisions for years.
I don't think the Big Ten is done with expansion
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My first reaction to the addition of USC and UCLA to the Big Ten was shock and surprise. My next thought was wondering if this is only the first of a few moves from the league — which appears to be the case based on reports.
There have already been numerous reports and speculation coming out that the Big Ten won’t be done with just adding USC and UCLA. So I wouldn’t be surprised if the league looks to add potentially four more teams to get it to an even 20.
The first few schools that come to mind as potential additions are Notre Dame, Oregon, Washington, North Carolina, Stanford and Georgia Tech. The league could go a completely different route but I think they’ll be looking to add at least two more west coast teams and two more big market or big brand teams. So all of those six meet those criteria and are schools to keep an eye on moving forward.