USC, UCLA ‘can carry some weight’ in Big Ten, Ohio State AD says

The two biggest college sports brands on the West Coast — USC and UCLA — are officially leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten in 2024, the latest bombshell move to shake up the college football landscape.

Ohio State Athletic Director Gene Smith didn’t shy away from the opportunity to share specifics on how he thought the move would help the Buckeyes, saying that Ohio State could use some help “carrying” the conference. 

“For Ohio State, it frankly provides two other schools that can carry some weight,” Smith said. “At the end of the day, Ohio State has been the program for the Big Ten over the years that has been at the top of the pyramid and has carried a significant amount of weight and value in the Big Ten.

“Now, we have two others who can contribute to that weight. I’m really excited about that. … That’s no disparagement to any school. It’s just reality.”

Ohio State is the only program in the Big Ten to win a College Football Playoff game, including the first CFP national championship game in 2014. Ohio State is 93–11 since then, while USC is 70–41 and UCLA is 46–48 during that same time period — though neither California-based program has made a CFP appearance.

What does the Big Ten expansion mean for the schools, the conferences and the College Football Playoff? Some think college football is headed toward a pro model with two mega-conferences.

Regardless, it 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.

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