Big 12 Expansion Rumors: Would UCLA, USC Consider Switching Conferences?

With Big 12 Conference expansion a reality now, rumors are swirling about what teams will be invited to join the 10-team league. Could current PAC-12 members UCLA, USC or the University of California become targets for the future expansion?

Perhaps so, according to a former head coach at one of the three California-based institutions.

Rick Neuheisel — the head coach at UCLA from 2008-2011 — told listeners on his SiriusXM program that multiple schools from the PAC-12 might be targeted for Big 12 expansion.

“I do think that there are going to be some overtures to some other Power 5 conferences, and I think you gotta look West. For the same reasons that the Big 12 had to look around and say, ‘who might leave us,’ I think the PAC-12 has to do that.

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Rick Neuheisel went on to mention several schools, but he keyed in on his former school and the University of California as institutions that should listen to a Big 12 expansion pitch. The former Bruins coach explained that beyond stringent rules in the PAC-12 that don’t exist in the Big 12, joining a new league through expansion could create a cash infusion for all sources involved.

“I wouldn’t be surprised if a school like [the University of] California. I think it’s telling that [Oklahoma University president] David Boren talks about the academic standards of these teams… I wouldn’t be surprised to even see my alma mater [UCLA] listen. Just as Texas A&M wanted to branch away from Texas, I wouldn’t be surprised to see UCLA to say ‘this deal with the USC thing, we’re going to go and be our own guy rather than always tied to the school here in Los Angeles.'”

SB Nation took the rumors to the next level, adding USC to the mix, as well. While Rick Neuheisel suggested that only one school might leave, the writer for the Bruins’ beat suggested adding USC to the mix could form a formidable cash cow for both California schools.

“[I]f UCLA, USC, or both decided to pull up stakes for the Big 12 with a Longhorn Network-type of deal in place as an incentive to join the Big 12, that would be a real game-changer… If the Big 12 is going to go after the Los Angeles market, it’s in their best interest to go after both LA schools not just one. Why would they ever consider leaving half of the market there for another conference? It just doesn’t make sense financially.”

While the rumors USC, UCLA or the University of California are new, some believe they will quickly be discarded. ESPN blogger Ted Miller is among the critics who discredit the rumors surrounding the school, suggesting Big 12 commission Bob Bowlsby look elsewhere during expansion.

“While money is the beating heart of college sports, there also is a brain. Conference membership, despite appearances, is about more than football. It’s also about culture and academics and, yes, other sports. It’s far more plausible that Texas joins the Pac-12 as part of a future ‘super conference’ expansion plan than any LA school would look to move east.”

Although the chances that the University of California, UCLA or USC leave the PAC-12 are slim, other schools from the conference have already been mentioned as possible candidates. The Inquisitr previously reported that both Arizona and Arizona State could be targeted by the Big 12 for future expansion. Schools from Power 5 conferences could help the Big 12 earn considerably more money as it renegotiates its TV contract following expansion.

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Do you think the Big 12 expansion rumors regarding USC, UCLA or the University of California have any merit? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below.

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