Thursday afternoon marked a seismic shift in the landscape of college sports when USC and UCLA announced their decision to join the Big Ten conference.
Questions began to swirl about which dominoes would come next. Are we ready for a pair of “superconferences” dominating college football? Is this just the first of many additions for the Big Ten in the coming months?
The SEC adding Texas and Oklahoma was a great start to something brewing, but with the geographic madness of two Los Angeles schools joining a Midwestern conference, it’s clear that anything is possible.
The Big Ten are probably not done adding as they seek to become a powerhouse that can rival the SEC and bring in astronomical numbers from TV money.
Where will the next conference take place? Which teams are looking to join? Here is a list of 12 schools that could potentially join a Big Ten superconference:
November 6, 2021; Seattle, Washington, USA; Fans of the Oregon Ducks players pose for a photo as they celebrate after a 26-16 win over the Washington Huskies at Alaska Airlines Field at Husky Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
A familiar foe from the Rose Bowl to the Badgers, from Oregon to the Big Ten makes a lot of sense. It’s a school with a rich sporting history, the Pac-12 is made as we once knew it, and geography is no longer a factor. The Ducks have reportedly expressed interest in joining, but the Big Ten currently remain at 16 teams.
January 29, 2022; Seattle, Washington, USA; Washington Huskies head football coach Kalen DeBoer speaks at the Hec Edmundson Pavilion Alaska Airlines Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports
Washington has a very similar case to Oregon, and the Huskies have also shown interest in the conference. The Huskies bring a strong athletic program, a team that has excelled on the football field in recent years and another school in the new West Coast group of Big Ten teams. Does the conference want them? Time will tell us.
Sep 25, 2021; Chicago, IL, USA; Notre Dame Fighting Irish running back Chris Tyree (25) returns a kick for a touchdown during the second half against the Wisconsin Badgers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski – USA TODAY Sports
While many other teams on this list will have the Big Ten in control of their membership or not, Notre Dame controls their future. The Fighting Irish have a massive and passionate fan base, a rich footballing history and a global support network. Their independence from the rest of the footballing world is likely to come to an end soon. Who will win the Fighting Irish competition?
April 2, 2022; New Orleans, LA, USA; ESPN personality Andy Katz interviews North Carolina Tar Heels forward Armando Bacot (5) after the game against the Duke Blue Devils in the 2022 NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament Semifinals at Caesars Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Bob Donnan-USA TODAY Sports
If the ACC loses to a superconference combination of the SEC and the Big Ten, the Tar Heels have the power to end up in one of the two major leagues. North Carolina would be a major addition to an already stacked basketball conference.
March 26, 2022; San Francisco, California, USA; Duke Blue Devils forward Paolo Banchero (5) holds part of the net as they celebrate their win over the Arkansas Razorbacks in the Western Region Finals of the NCAA Men’s College Basketball Tournament at The Chase Center. The Duke Blue Devils won 78-69. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox – USA TODAY Sports
You can bet on Duke and North Carolina acting in tandem, like what USC and UCLA just did. If one goes, the other will probably follow.
March 5, 2022; Louisville, Kentucky, USA; Virginia Cavaliers head coach Tony Bennett gives instructions during the second half against the Louisville Cardinals at KFC Yum! Center. Virginia beat Louisville 71-61. Mandatory Credit: Jamie Rhodes-USA TODAY Sports
Virginia has been rumored to join the Big Ten in the past, and the fit makes a lot of sense. An excellent college school, a well-rehearsed athletic department and a team likely to leave the ACC if the ship starts to sink.
during the college football game between the Oklahoma State Cowboys and the TCU Horned Frogs at Boone Pickens Stadium in Stillwater, Okla., Saturday November 13, 2021.
With Oklahoma moving to the SEC, this could be the natural path for the Cowboys as they explore a new conference. If there are two superconferences forming, however, it’s a safe bet that Oklahoma State will end up in one of the two.
January 22, 2022; Coral Gables, Florida, USA; Miami Hurricanes head football coach Mario Cristobal reacts while getting the crowd going during the second half between the Miami Hurricanes and the Florida State Seminoles at the Watsco Center. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
It’s hard to imagine the Big Ten not being interested in Miami. Will this interest be mutual? If the ACC dominoes start to fall, a program like the Hurricanes will be a nice addition for a superconference.
November 27, 2021; Syracuse, New York, USA; Syracuse Orange running back Sean Tucker (34) runs through a holeshot in the first quarter against the Pittsburgh Panthers at the Carrier Dome. Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports
Syracuse would bring a rich basketball history and an established brand to the ACC. The fit makes a lot of sense, especially if the Big Ten lands North Carolina and Duke.
Georgia Tech guard Michael Devoe (0) dribbles past Wisconsin guard Johnny Davis (1) during the second half of an NCAA college basketball game Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021 in Atlanta. (AP Photo/Hakim Wright Sr.)
There were talks about Georgia Tech with the Big Ten during the last conference realignment, and there will likely be talks between the school and the league this time around. Adding the Atlanta market would further expand the Big Ten’s footprint.
April 23, 2022; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Utah Utes head coach Kyle Whittingham looks on during the second half of the Utah Spring Football game at Rice–Eccles Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Rob Gray-USA TODAY Sports
After Washington and Oregon, Utah is likely next in the Big Ten pecking order if the conference is looking to continue expanding west. The Utes have created a football powerhouse and rule the state alongside new Big 12 member BYU.
February 27, 2021; Lawrence, Kansas, USA; Kansas Jayhawks head coach Bill Self talks to Kansas Jayhawks guard Marcus Garrett (0) after his team defeated the Baylor Bears at Allen Fieldhouse. Mandatory Credit: Amy Kontras – USA TODAY Sports
Well, it’s a two-sport tale with Kansas. The Jayhawks bring blue-blooded basketball power to the conference alongside a football program that struggles to put it mildly. If the Big 12 continues to lose members, the Jayhawks will be one of the first schools to move.