Big Ten actually wanted to poach Oregon and not UCLA?
In the summer of 2024, UCLA and USC will officially head to the Big Ten. But is that the combination the oldest Division I collegiate athletic conference in the United States actually wanted?
Not if you ask Arizona president Robert Robbins.
“USC started this whole thing [to move to the Big Ten]. I think UCLA was a reluctant follower in this whole thing. But [USC] needed a travel partner close by so it makes sense,” Robbins told via CBS Sports. “If Oregon calls Washington up and says, ‘I can double the amount of money you’re getting; come with me to the Big Ten,’ Washington is going to say, ‘OK, I’m in.’ They would love to have gone.
“When I heard it first, the deal was going to be USC-Oregon [to the Big Ten]. That makes sense. … Their TV market is not that big, [but] they play in different colored uniforms, and they win. That’s where I would have started this thing off.”
But money talks and in Robbins’ mind, FOX sought to lock down the Los Angeles market.
“I think Fox wanted to consolidate L.A. and not let anybody else in [with USC-UCLA]. I think it’s brilliant. Well played,” Robbins said.
Washington and Oregon, who recently hired a new president in John Karl Scholz, could still bolt for the Big Ten. If they did, Robbins believes the Pac-12 would still be able to survive albeit wounded.
“I’ve always thought yes. Can someone live without two legs? When you start taking an arm off, it depends on what arm it is,” Robbins said.
For now, those decisions seem like a long way off but the Big Ten are still likely to keep their eyes on Oregon.