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News broke Wednesday night that the UCLA athletic program had been officially cleared to head to the Big 10 conference.
The Bruins will join USC, who as a private school, faced no such hurdles.
This is inarguably a massive blow to the Pac-12 Conference, both in revenue and reputation.
With just 10 schools remaining, the conference now faces a much worse negotiating position as their media rights negotiations unfold.
But if you listen to the conference, they’re not worried about it.
Pac-12 reporter Jon Wilner got a statement after the official vote, which showed an admirable amount of optimism.
The conference “remains incredibly bullish on the future success and growth” of their group and member institutions.
Except their biggest media market now belongs entirely to the Big 10.
Pac-12 Faces Severe Challenges
Without USC and UCLA, name value in the conference is severely diminished. Oregon and Washington are solid, and Utah might be the most consistently underrated program in the country.
But Colorado, Arizona, Arizona State, Washington State and others have very little national name recognition.
They’re frequently banished to “Pac-12 after dark” television windows, while rarely challenging for major bowl games.
Colorado has made major inroads by bringing in Deion Sanders, but it’s one thing to get recruits and another to make them competitive.
The conference commissioner has claimed that there’s no support among fans of the LA schools for the move to the Big 10.
That might be true now, but if SC and UCLA can both reassert themselves nationally, fans will quickly forget about the past.
As far as the Pac-12 is concerned, they will almost certainly need to expand again or risk schools being poached into other conferences.
Whoever they find to replace SC and UCLA will undoubtedly be lesser names and in smaller markets.
There are so many potential challenges on the horizon, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than those in charge being “bullish” about the Pac-12’s future.