What (Or Who) Is Next For the Big Ten and College Sports?
College sports — particularly football and basketball — have been in a state of chaos for the better part of the last year. Between the advent of transfers with immediate eligibility and players finally being able to capitalize on their own Name, Image, and Likeness (NIL), things have descended into a state of lawlessness that many have likened to the pioneering days of America's Wild West.
On Thursday, the Big Ten plunged college sports even further into chaos.
The league poached USC and UCLA from the Pac-12. The Trojans and Bruins represent a major coup for the Big Ten: Both universities have outstanding academic reputations, rich athletic traditions and histories, and, most importantly, enormous economic potential. It's a strong strategic response by the Big Ten to its lone contemporary in major college sports, the SEC, which set the college sports world on fire a year ago when it lured Oklahoma and Texas away from the Big 12.
Once the shock of the Big Ten's expansion into the West Coast and Los Angeles dissipated, many began wondering aloud what will happen next. It's a safe bet that the SEC won't simply tip its cap to the Big Ten and back down. It's probably just as safe a bet that the Big Ten won't grow complacent, either.
What will happen to everyone else? Will the Big Ten and SEC inevitably consume the rest of the college sports world, leaving only the nobodies as leftovers? Have we begun on a march toward a future controlled and dominated by two mega-conferences, bloated with heavyweight members, who choke everyone else out?
And what does it all mean for fans? Are the traditions and customs we've always known and loved in peril?
The truth is it's impossible to know for sure. Hell, before Thursday most people would have dismissed the idea of USC and UCLA defecting the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as message board fodder. It really does feel like anything is possible in college sports right now.
Given all the tumult and uncertainty, here are a few repercussions of the Big Ten's landscape-altering maneuver on Thursday and what the future of college sports may hold.