Russell Report: Superconference shifting

Published: Jul. 4, 2022 at 6:01 PM EDT
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GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WCJB) - Just when you thought we were heading into the dreaded sports dog days of July, we were rescued by the stunning announcement that UCLA and USC would leave the PAC 12 to join the Big 10 in the 2024 season. Those two schools were in the league for 94 years and all that history is erased with one swipe of a pen. At first, there was shock and surprise but after some thought, maybe it isn’t so surprising. I have long said we were heading for super conferences but I didn’t think it would happen so soon. There is history for this. I’m old enough to remember the Big 8 conference and the PAC 8 conference but they blew up with expansion so this is just, pardon the pun, an expansion of that. It’s all about money as it always is in big-time athletics. The Big 10 blueprint will now stretch from California to New Jersey. How much fun do you think coaches and athletes will have on a 3,000-mile cross-country flight or an equipment van ride that, if taken by car, could take days to finish? No matter, we want more money.

And don’t think there isn’t behind-the-scenes movement going on right now as the survival of the fittest mode kicks in. The PAC 12 already has said it will seek more teams to remain a power five conference but schools like Oregon and Washington may be ripe for the picking to also leave the conference. The Big 10 probably isn’t done yet and what about the big, bad SEC? Could we see two 20-team super conferences in the sec and the Big 10? Don’t think that can’t happen. The wildcards in all of this might be the ACC. If SEC Commissioner Greg Sankey wants to swing for the fences and form a superconference, would he make a call to Clemson, FSU, or even a Virginia school to increase the SEC blueprint? Some have even suggested the SEC could dump underperforming schools like Vanderbilt or maybe Missouri to become even more competitive although I think that is highly unlikely.

Yep, the long hot summer just got hotter. College football starts in just a few weeks and you wonder what other bombshells may drop before the season starts. Think of this: USC coach Lincoln Riley will now be coaching in a third different conference since losing to Oklahoma State in the Big 12. He’s in the PAC 12 now and he’ll then go to the Big 10. That’s just crazy, but that’s also the college football landscape. It’s all about what’s for sale, and at what price. I’m Steve Russell, that’s the Russell Report!

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