USC, UCLA moving to Big Ten: How move affects schools, Pac-12

USC football coach Lincoln Riley watches his players during a training session in March.

USC football coach Lincoln Riley watches his players during a training session in March.

(Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times)

Lot of money

Simply put, a move to the Big Ten could mean a huge payday for USC and UCLA.

The Big Ten has led in revenue among Power 5 schools since signing a lucrative media rights deal in 2017, and its member schools are still enjoying the haul. The Big Ten posted sales of more than $768 million in fiscal 2019-20 – the last before the COVID-19 pandemic – compared to around $533 million for the Pac-12. As a result, the 12 oldest members of the Big Ten each raised about $54.3 million, according to tax returns. Meanwhile, the Pac-12 schools have settled for $33.6 million each. (Big Ten newcomers Maryland and Rutgers received $27.6 and $11.4 million, respectively, in 2020.)

Numbers fell drastically the following year because of the pandemic, but Pac-12 schools were among the hardest-hit. The Pac-12 distributed about $19.8 million to each of its members last year, down 40% from the pre-pandemic figure. According to USA Today, the Big Ten paid its 12 oldest members between $43.1 million and $49.1 million, down from 9.6% to 20.6% from the year-earlier average.

better competition

The Pac-12’s last playoff appearance in college football came in 2016, when Washington scored the No. 4 casualty pitch that would be destroyed by No. 1 Alabama.

Meanwhile, the Big Ten have appeared in six of eight playoff semifinals, led by Ohio State’s four playoff beds. The Big Ten had four teams in the top 25 last year, while the Pac-12 hasn’t even had three top-25 finishers since 2017.

The Pac-12 tries to pass off its struggles as “parity,” but suffered another blow last year when the Pac-12 teams went 0-5 during bowl season. The Big Ten sent 10 of their 14 teams to bowl games last season, going 6-4.

Entering a conference with better teams and a stronger schedule is expected to result in more CFP opportunities for UCLA and USC and better recruiting spots as top athletes want a chance to compete against the best for grand prizes.

media exposure

Joining the Big Ten, which has regular 9:00 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. PDT kickoffs, will help secure the days of #Pac12AfterDark are over for UCLA and USC. While the notoriously chaotic late-night games were fun on Twitter, they’re also major annoyances for sports departments starved for fan interest. East Coast fans and media simply didn’t stay up until 1 a.m. EDT to watch two Pac-12 teams fumble the ball back and forth.

Now, when USC or USC travel east to play one of their Big Ten opponents, they’re almost guaranteed to have a morning or early afternoon game for West Coast fans. Then say Michigan is traveling west to face USC at the Coliseum. Kick-off time stays outside of the infamous 7:30pm PDT slot to appease fans in Ann Arbor. LA college football fans could soon be resting on Saturday nights. USC, UCLA moving to Big Ten: How move affects schools, Pac-12

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