ATHENS — The Big Ten has accepted USC and UCLA with the 16-member league set to begin play in 2024, per ESPN reports.
Just when fans were beginning to wrap their brains around Texas and Oklahoma moving to the SEC and the shifting landscape brought on NIL and one-time transfer legislation, college football has served up another curve ball.
News leaked earlier Thursday that the Pac-12 schools were planning a move that would more than double their revenue via a considerably larger television package.
Within hours of the rumor, it was reportedly a done deal.
The addition of the Trojans and the Bruins -- from the nation’s second-largest television market -- increases the value of a long-term Big Ten television package that is currently being negotiated with Fox and could be worth one billion dollars.
RELATED: How USC and UCLA move compares to SEC television markets
The Big Ten previously added Rutgers and Maryland in 2014, adding 33 percent to its television market footprint.
The addition of UCLA and USC stretches the Big Ten across the nation, with 2,426 miles separating the Los Angeles area schools and the Big Ten’s Easternmost school, Rutgers, in Piscataway, N.J.
The long-distance travel between the schools’ for athletic events is just one question that arises from the schools’ joining the Big Ten.
The football programs typically don’t travel more than six or seven times per season, but there will be greater challenges and expenses for basketball, in addition to several non-revenue sports.
Here are three other big questions that the addition of the Trojans and Bruins bring to mind:
1. Which conference makes the next move?
The SEC added Texas and Oklahoma last summer, bringing its membership to 16 teams.
The Big 12 responded by adding BYU , Houston, UCF and Cincinnati to what stands to be a 12-team league.
The 14-member ACC has a grant-of-rights agreement intended to keep each member school signed through 2036. Any school that leaves before then would surrender its television revenue money, meaning it would take a blockbuster deal to pry away any of the ACC members.
Could the ACC be looking to expand to 16 teams like the Big Ten and SEC?
And, what’s next for the Pac-12, now staggered with just 10 teams and its largest television and revenue market on the way out?
College football’s Power 5 might more aptly be considered the Power 4 with the Pac-12 greatly diminished.
2. Is Notre Dame in play?
Notre Dame is in the midst of a television contract with NBC that began in 2016 and ran through 2025.
The Irish played the 2020 season in the ACC on account of the COVID conditions that restricted many league’s schedules to conference action.
Notre Dame’s location in South Bend, Ind., is most convenient to the Big Ten and the Irish have historic rivalries with Michigan State and Michigan that would make their addition to that conference one of a celebrated nature.
It wouldn’t seem the other college football independents -- UMass, UConn and Army -- would offer much value as things currently stand. But with all the shuffling taking place, it’s fair to assume each of those schools is considering its athletic programs’ futures.
3. Playoff repercussions