UCLA and USC Jump Pac-12 Ship, Leaving Remaining Conference Members Reeling


Kevin Cody

University of Utah safety and senior Vonte Davis in a University of Utah football game against the USC Trojans on Saturday, Oct. 10, 2021. (Photo by Kevin Cody | The Daily Utah Chronicle)

By Ethan Pearce, Sports Editor


Pac-12 mainstays UCLA and USC are planning on leaving the conference for the Big Ten as early as 2024. It’s massive, earth-shaking news for both conferences as college football inches closer to the long-rumored two-conference, professional model. The Pac-12 will soon be back to the Pac-10, and losing two of their biggest draws could spell doom for the conference.

Both Los Angeles schools have been conference powerhouses in multiple sports for many years. USC, armed with new head football coach Lincoln Riley, appears to be a national contender over the short and long term. UCLA has been one of the best men’s college basketball teams over the past few years under Mick Cronin. Both schools have enjoyed sustained success for many years, and are now leaving the Pac-12 in the dust for other opportunities.

It’s certainly not good news for the Pac-12 and commissioner George Kliavkoff, who has a massive headache on his hands. The conference’s failure to consistently be in consideration for the College Football Playoff, combined with a lack of national attention, certainly has teams second guessing whether or not they want to be a part of the Pac. 

Other large schools with athletic success such as Oregon, Stanford, Washington and Utah may have their attention pulled elsewhere in the coming years.

The Pac could now potentially search for replacements to fill those spots, with potential names including Boise State, Utah State, San Diego State and Fresno State, among others. 

The Big Ten and the SEC are quickly becoming the nation’s biggest draw for college athletics, and it’s only a matter of time before more of the biggest schools from the ACC, Pac-12 and other conferences heavily consider moving. 

For the Utes, this move will cement them as one of the best athletic programs in the conference, and as the Pac-12’s clear-cut best current football program. If they continue their sustained success over the next few years, the Utes could potentially find themselves with an invite to jump ship from the Pac as well. 

In the short term, it’s not good news for the conference’s visibility and national respect, but Utah could end up benefiting from a mass exodus from the Pac-12 into a larger national spotlight, if they’re lucky enough to be invited. If they keep dominating football the way they have been, which should be easier in a weakened conference, the Utes will find themselves moving up the ladder in no time.


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