Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten adding UCLA, USC in 2024 as full members; chasing others?

UCLA and USC are being welcomed to the Big Ten in 2024 without the customary waiting period to be recognized as vested members of the conference.

The move runs counter to the six-year vesting period the Big Ten established when Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska were added.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday at media days in Indianapolis that the decision reflects the importance of adding the Pac-12 powerhouses from Los Angeles to the vast league, which will have teams in three time zones.

“USC and UCLA will come in as members,” Warren said. “We think that’s important for various reasons. They bring a lot of value to our relationship. They bring a lot of panache to our relationship, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Big Ten family here in 2024.”

The share of league revenue for each institution will be determined when the conference begins a new media rights deal in 2023. Los Angeles is the No. 2 media market, and the expectation is the league’s take could grow beyond $1 billion annually.

“I don’t want to guess what that would be. I know we’ll reach that decision here pretty quickly,” Warren said Tuesday.

Warren said the Big Ten would not apologize for the “strength, power, boldness” of expansion, nor would the commissioner rule out adding other schools.

“We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic. It will add additional value to our conference,” he said.

“We are currently in a landscape in college athletics that is changing on a daily basis. … The Big Ten conference will not languish in bureaucracy.”

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; A general view of the Pac-12 conference logo on the field prior to the game between the Utah Utes and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Report: Big 12 interested in adding at least four Pac-12 programs

Big 12 conference officials have their eyes on adding at least four Pac-12 programs, days after the defection of Southern California and UCLA to the Big Ten left the Pac-12 reeling, CBS Sports reported Tuesday.

The Big 12 is targeting Arizona, Arizona State, Colorado and Utah, per the report. The four programs could be natural fits as the Big 12 expands into the Mountain time zone with the already announced addition of BYU.

Oregon and Washington also could be targeted by the Big 12, and a merger of the two conferences also is a “possibility,” CBS Sports reported. At the same time, legislation is being discussed in both states that would require the Division I public universities to hold membership in the same conference, meaning leagues that want Washington and Oregon could be required to accept Washington State and Oregon State, too.

One thing is certain: College sports, driven by college football, are in flux. The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday that since late last week, 10 programs have contacted the Big Ten about potential membership.

Money is driving the shifts. According to the WSJ, the Big Ten distributed to its members $54.3 million in fiscal year 2020, compared to the average of $33.6 million received by Pac-12 schools that year.

Meanwhile, the Pac-12’s leadership group on Tuesday gave commissioner George Kliavkoff the go-ahead to begin negotiations on a new television contract to replace the current pact that expires in 2024.

It could be a hard sell for Kliavkoff, given he doesn’t know what teams will be in the league in 2024 — or whether the Pac-12 will have been forced to merge with another conference — and because of the lack of Los Angeles-based schools.

–Field Level Media

Yellow Team defensive back Bennett Williams (15) dances to Shout during the Oregon Spring Game at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Pac-12 to explore expansion options to replace USC, UCLA

One day after the Southern California and UCLA announced their departures to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 vowed that it will “explore all expansion options” to keep the league thriving.

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met Friday morning to discuss the options after the stunning exits by USC and UCLA delivered a major blow to the conference.

“The 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academics and athletic excellence on behalf of our student athletes,” the league said in a statement.

Also on Friday, reports circulated that Oregon and Washington conversed with the Big Ten and were told the conference was sticking at 16 members for now.

The two schools are on the backburner as the Big Ten makes another push at attracting Notre Dame, a football independent whose basketball programs along with other sports are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

If Oregon and Washington were to exit the Pac-12, that would rate as another huge blow. The other eight Pac-12 schools are Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah and Washington State.

There also is speculation that the two Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah could become a target for the Big 12.

As for the Pac-12, a bevy of Mountain West schools will be lining up hoping for an invitation.

UNLV features the world class Allegiant Stadium and the city of Las Vegas has exploded as a sports force in recent years.

San Diego State could fill the sudden Southern California void in the conference. San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country and the school is opening a new football stadium this season — though, at 35,000 seats, it is small for power conference standards. The facility does have room for expansion.

Boise State has enjoyed football success and is in close proximity to Washington State. However, the school’s football stadium of 36,387 seats isn’t a big-time facility. The school built a football operations facility directly behind the north end zone, limiting expansion opportunities.

Fresno State is another California possibility, while Colorado State (located an hour north of Denver) could merit a look.

There also could be the possibility of some Big 12 members looking westward. At this point, there are numerous schools who want to make sure they don’t get left behind in the current frenzy that began last year when Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Texas announced their upcoming departures to the SEC.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins running back Kazmeir Allen (19) catches a touchdown pass against Southern California Trojans cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart (6) in the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: USC, UCLA planning jump to Big Ten in 2024

Southern Cal and UCLA are planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024, the Bay Area News Group and The Athletic reported Thursday.

The move has not been finalized “at the highest levels of power,” per the bombshell report, and The Athletic noted legally guided steps that must be followed for either university to change conferences.

USC joined the conference in 1922 while UCLA joined in 1928.

The Big Ten last expanded in 2014 with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland.

–Field Level Media

Michigan running back Hassan Haskins (25) celebrates  scoring a touchdown against Ohio State during the second half at Michigan Stadium in Ann Arbor on Saturday, Nov. 27, 2021.

michigan happy

Playoff berth on line for No. 2 Michigan in Big Ten title game vs. No. 13 Iowa

Michigan heads into its first Big Ten championship game with a national playoff berth on the line when the Wolverines face Iowa — a matchup that seemed improbable just a week ago.

The Wolverines (11-1, 8-1 Big Ten) earned the trip to Saturday’s conference championship game in Indianapolis by gaining a share of the Big Ten East title with a 42-27 victory at home over longtime nemesis Ohio State. They snapped an eight-game losing streak against the arch-rival Buckeyes.

The Wolverines jumped to No. 2 from fifth in the College Football Playoff rankings, while the Buckeyes plummeted from second to seventh and out of the playoff picture.

Iowa (10-2, 7-2), 13th in the playoff rankings, won the Big Ten West when Wisconsin was upset at Minnesota, denying the Badgers a title game berth.

Michigan pounded the Buckeyes behind Hassan Haskins, who rushed for 169 yards on 28 carries and tied a school record with five touchdowns.

Quarterback Cade McNamara completed 13 of 19 passes for 159 yards, but he attempted just three passes in the second half as Michigan ground out touchdowns on its four full possessions after the break.

“Michigan’s got a real identity — offensively, defensively, special teams,” Iowa coach Kirk Ferentz said. “You can tell their players fully believe in what they’re doing. They do it well and they do it with a lot of energy and really play at a high level.”

Haskins has rushed for 1,232 yards and 18 touchdowns. Blake Corum has run for 865 yards and 10 scores. McNamara has completed 183 of 284 passes (64.4 percent) for 2,301 yards, with 14 touchdowns and three interceptions.

Defensive end Aidan Hutchinson, the Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year, has a conference-leading 13 sacks, including three against Ohio State. Linebacker David Ojabo is second in the Big Ten with 11 sacks.

The Wolverines’ only loss was to Michigan State, 37-33, in late October, after Michigan led by 16 in the third quarter.

The Hawkeyes won their first six games to climb to No. 2 in the AP poll before suffering consecutive losses to Purdue and Wisconsin. Iowa then won its final four games by a total of 27 points.

Iowa lost to Michigan State 16-13 in 2015 in its only other appearance in the Big Ten Championship game. Iowa has won five of the last seven meetings against Michigan, with the Wolverines winning 10-3 at home in the last meeting, in 2019.

Iowa is ranked 13th nationally in total defense, allowing 315.7 yards per game, one spot ahead of the Wolverines (319.2 ypg). Michigan is eighth in scoring defense (17.17 ppg), while the Hawkeyes are ninth (17.25 ppg).

The Wolverines average 451.2 yards of offense, while Iowa averages 299.1.

Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh was asked what makes Iowa’s run defense so daunting, and he said the challenge was more than that.

“Iowa in all regards — run defense, pass defense, the way they tackle,” Harbaugh said. “Offensively, their execution, the way they block, the way they run. The tremendous attention to detail on special teams, and as hard as the play. Across the board, it’s all really, really good. This is a sound, tough, fundamentally good football team in every single regard.”

The Hawkeyes lead the nation with 22 interceptions and have scored 82 points off turnovers.

Spencer Petras is expected to start at quarterback against Michigan. Sophomore Alex Padilla started the last three games after Petras suffered a shoulder injury. Petras relieved Padilla at the start of the second half against Nebraska and led the Hawkeyes to a 28-21 comeback victory.

“It was a gut feeling Saturday. We just kind of went with it and we’ll continue to do that moving forward,” Ferentz said. “We’ll start the game with Spencer. I thought he did a good job. He’s done a lot of good things here over two years.”

Petras has completed 137 of 236 passes for 1,532 yards, with nine touchdowns and six interceptions, four of which came against Purdue. Padilla is 45 of 97 for 598 yards, with two touchdowns and one interception.

Tyler Goodson is the leading rusher with 1,101 yards on 238 attempts. He is averaging 5.5 yards per carry and 122.0 yards per game in his last four games.

–Field Level Media

Oct 19, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; A general view of the Pac-12 conference logo on the field prior to the game between the Utah Utes and the Arizona State Sun Devils at Rice-Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 not considering expansion ‘at this time’

The Pac-12 is content being a family of 12.

The conference issued a statement Thursday indicating it isn’t looking to expand, dealing a blow to schools in the Big 12 seeking to follow Oklahoma and Texas out of the league and into another conference.

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff told The Athletic on Tuesday that conference officials had been considering expansion and would come to a quick decision.

That decision came Thursday.

“Following consultation with our presidents, chancellors and athletic directors, the Pac-12 Conference has made the decision to not pursue expansion of our membership at this time,” the statement read. “This decision was made following extensive internal discussion and analysis, and is based on the current competitive strength and cohesiveness of our 12 universities. It is also grounded in our confidence in our ability as a conference to best support our student-athletes and to grow and thrive both academically and athletically.”

The Pac-12 agreed Tuesday to form a strategic alliance with the Atlantic Coast Conference and Big Ten, with the 41 schools working together on things such as scheduling, legislative issues and concern for student-athletes.

With the pending departure of marquee programs Oklahoma and Texas to the Southeastern Conference, the Big 12 and the eight committed member institutions face an uncertain future.

–Field Level Media

Jul 21, 2021; Charlotte, NC, USA; ACC commissioner Jim Phillips speaks to the media during the ACC Kickoff at The Westin Charlotte. Mandatory Credit: Jim Dedmon-USA TODAY Sports

ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 make conference alliance official

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 cemented their athletics alliance Tuesday, announcing their plan to have 41 universities work together on elements from scheduling to the well-being of student-athletes amid a time of upheaval in college sports.

This summer has seen laws take effect that allow student-athletes to benefit from their name, image and likeness, as well as the departure of Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference.

“There is turbulence right now in college athletics. There are things we need to address,” said Kevin Warren, the commissioner of the Big Ten, at a virtual news conference. “We need to have strong leadership. We need to work together.”

Under the deal, the three conferences will increase interconference scheduling among themselves for football and men’s and women’s basketball while honoring existing contracts.

There isn’t a legal contract between the conferences. In effect, it is a gentleman’s agreement between Warren, Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff and ACC commissioner Jim Phillips.

“There is no signed document, and there doesn’t need to be,” Kliavkoff said. “There is a commitment from three commissioners and 41 presidents and athletics directors.”

Phillips agreed.

“It’s about trust. We’ve looked each other in the eye and made an agreement,” he said. “Our board chairs have looked each other in the eye. … If that’s what it takes to get something considerable done, then we’ve lost our way.”

Combined, the three conferences have more than 27,000 student-athletes competing on 863 teams in 31 sports.

–Field Level Media

The logo of the Big Ten Conference is seen on a yard marker during Iowa Hawkeyes football Kids Day at Kinnick open practice, Saturday, Aug. 14, 2021, at Kinnick Stadium in Iowa City, Iowa.

210814 Ia Fb Kids Day 109 Jpg

Big Ten follows Pac-12, ACC on COVID-19 forfeiture plan

The Big Ten announced Monday that any team unable to field a team this upcoming season due to a COVID-19 outbreak will forfeit the game.

The policy is in line with the other Power 5 conferences, with subtle differences.

In the ACC, if both teams are affected by an outbreak, both teams take a loss in the standings. In the Big Ten and Big 12, if both are stricken with an outbreak and can’t play, it goes in the standings as a “no contest.”

The particular game will not be rescheduled.

The SEC is the lone Power 5 conference that has yet to unveil a COVID-forfeit policy. The league said it would finalize a policy closer to Week 1 games.

–Field Level Media

Dec 6, 2020; University Park, Pennsylvania, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions athletic director Sandy Barbour prior to the game against the Seton Hall Pirates at the Bryce Jordan Center. Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports

Penn State AD says conference alliance is not just about money

Penn State athletic director Sandy Barbour told the media Saturday the Big Ten considers more than money when making decisions, including its potential alliance with the ACC and Pac-12.

She said the conference “prides” itself on being about more than athletics.

The Big Ten, ACC and Pac-12 are discussing a potential alliance moving forward about many issues regarding college sports. The move is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma’s announcement that they are leaving the Big 12 for the SEC.

“I’m not trying to downplay the importance of value as it relates to upsizing our revenues — that certainly is important — but that’s not the only reason,” Barbour said. “And I think that there are some reasons around like-mindedness that would be very valuable to the conference.”

The alliance could be announced as early as next week, according to reports on Friday, but the three conferences still have many things to discuss and agree on.

–Field Level Media

Jul 27, 2021; Hollywood, CA, USA; PAC-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks to the media during the Pac-12 football Media Day at the W Hollywood. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

Report: ACC, Big Ten, Pac-12 discussing potential alliance

The ACC, Big Ten and Pac-12 are discussing an alliance that will include scheduling and legislation, according to The Athletic.

The report says ACC commissioner Jim Phillips, Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren and Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff have been talking for multiple weeks.

“I’ve been in frequent and regular contact with all of the other A5 commissioners the last few weeks about the complex issues that are facing the industry,” Kliavkoff told The Athletic. He added, there is “nothing to report on this specific matter at this time.”

There is no timeline for when the alliance could be finalized and announced.

The main aspect of the alliance would be the three conferences voting together as a bloc on major issues.

The alliance is a reaction to Texas and Oklahoma joining the SEC.

The Big 12 is not being considered for the alliance. Big 12 commissioner Bob Bowlsby and Kliavkoff met last week.

–Field Level Media