It was a year ago today that a Tweet from respected veteran San Jose Mercury News Pac-12 reporter Jon Wilner moved the very earth beneath our feet.

The college athletics landscape was forever changed that day, Jun 30, 2022, with the Pac-12’s two premier teams, in its biggest market, deciding that the Big Ten offered a rosier financial future than did the conference they called home for more than 9 decades, demanding travel schedule be damned. It was corporate consolidation under the guise of realignment, with the B1G realizing that Texas and Oklahoma’s flight to the SEC made the mighty even mightier and that the conference risked falling further behind unless it created a Big Two.

Now, a year later, there’s been a whole lot of talk and very little action. Some big-time flirting, but no consummations. A near weekly barrage of flitty gossip, posturing by media and message board folks who are trying to create any reason for someone to click. What’s next? Oregon and Washington to the Big Ten? Arizona and Arizona State to the Big 12? Stanford and Washington to the moon?

The Pac-12 has been buried, resurrected, buried and brought back from the brink once more, with a media deal seemingly just around the corner, every corner.

We don’t know anything for sure, only that more change is certainly coming.

Well, that, and the Bruins and Trojans better get some nice travel pillows.


It was about the money, because it was always going to be about the money. We don’t know what USC and UCLA would have gotten from the next Pac-12 media rights deal, but we do know it would pale in comparison to the XXX they’ll get as their pieces of the B1G pie.

It wasn’t about any budget deficit or shortfall. That’s temporary thinking. It was about the very world we live in constricting like a boa. Sure, there are a lot of television channels, but they’re all owned by the same handful of companies. This was coming, like it or not, and administrators at USC and UCLA both knew it. Adapt or die.

“Our move to the Big Ten positions USC for long-term success and stability amidst the rapidly changing sports media and collegiate athletic landscapes,” USC president Carol Folt said in a statement after the move was formally announced just a couple days later. Equally important, we are joining a conference that shares our values of academic excellence, athletic competitiveness and diversity and inclusion across all sports. The enhanced resources from this move will enable additional support for our student-athletes as well as benefit initiatives surrounding academics, accessibility and affordability.”

UCLA athletic director Martin Jarmond essentially echoed those thoughts himself.

“We want to position our student-athletes at UCLA to be the best and to be in a position of strength,” Jarmond said in an ESPN interview shortly after the announced move. “We have 119 national championships and its important to support all 25 of our programs. At the end of the day, with this seismic change in college athletics, we want to be in a position of strength at UCLA and that’s what we intend to do.”

But in the very same interview, Jarmond also spoke to ancillary benefits that can’t be overlooked.

“Well, one, national exposure,” he said. “I mean, now you’re going to be in three different time zones, multiple time zones. Here on the West Coast, when you think about some of the game times and things, you’re not always in the national spotlight. Now, our student-athletes will get to showcase their talent and skills as far from the Pacific to the Atlantic, all through the East Coast.”

Will that be a good thing? On Sunday, I’ll explore the implications for some of the two schools’ premier teams, from USC’s playoff-contending football team, the flagship program in the conference, to UCLA’s legendary men’s basketball team — which gives Trojan football a run for its money — to both programs’ terrific Olympic sports teams. For some of those teams, this is a nightmare scenario. For others, a dream.

Either way, despite the travel demands and the uptick in competition, this was a move both programs had to make if they could. And they did.


But still, this is all so weird.

Do you remember where you were a year ago? I do. I was just weeks away from starting this very job, my re-entry into a conference with which I’d become intimately familiar as UCLA beat writer for the Los Angeles Daily News from 2009-12 and Pac-12 writer and columnist for the Arizona Daily Star from 2013-17. I’d seen some of the best — and worst — the conference had to offer. I saw Andrew Luck torch defensive backs and Derrick Williams dunk all over his conference counterparts. I saw T.J. McConnell and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson get waylaid by Frank Kaminsky, not once, but twice. Hell, Ben Howland kissed me on the forehead, for heaven’s sake. It went viral. The Tweet, not the kiss, thank God.

Suffice to say, I thought I’d seen everything.

But I didn’t see this one coming.

UCLA and USC to the B1G.

A year later, as much as I understand it, I still can’t believe it.