Is USC, UCLA move pushing college football toward pro model?

News that USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024 is just the latest development in what has come to be an ever-changing college football landscape.

The official announcement, which broke Thursday, is a major blow for the Pac-12 Conference, which hasn’t sent a team to the College Football Playoff since the 2016 Washington Huskies and has battled for relevancy in a Power Five landscape dominated by the SEC and Big Ten. The move also comes almost a year after Big 12 powers Texas and Oklahoma formally accepted invitations to join the SEC in 2025. 

When it’s all said and done, the Big Ten will have five football stadiums with capacities of 90,000 or more

On Friday’s “The Herd,” College Football Hall of Famer and FOX College Football Studio Analyst Matt Leinart, a former USC quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner, joined Joy Taylor to break down the news.

“I was shocked at the initial announcement, [but] I can’t say that I’m surprised that it happened,” he said. “I think when you look at the current landscape of college football [and] where it’s going — Oklahoma and Texas really being that first domino last year to say, ‘Hey, we’re going to the SEC,’ for their obvious reasons. USC being a massive national brand still despite kinda the lack of competitiveness on the field. It just was a no-brainer. … I’m not surprised that they made this move that will greatly benefit them and UCLA.”

Matt Leinart on USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten

Leinart discusses the news of USC and UCLA leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten.

Leinart went on to discuss what the move means for college football in general and how it will impact the league moving forward.

“I think we’re going toward — it feels like — a pro model with two mega-conferences,” he said. “You have the SEC, which brought in Oklahoma and Texas. Now you have the Big Ten, which is bringing in USC and UCLA. The whole landscape is shifting. … The Big 12 was able to bring in some new membership last year to kinda survive, but the overall landscape, that is shifting.

“I think NIL (Name, Image and Likeness) is another thing, the transfer portal. There [are] so many different issues right now. … It’s all going to settle down at some point. It is the new [normal], and I think we have to get used to that — for better or for worse. It’s kind of like you either have to be a part of the future — you sink, or you swim. Some teams are gonna sink and some teams are gonna jump off and try and survive.”

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