Ohio State AD says USC and UCLA were only Pac-12 teams worth adding for Big Ten
The leader of the most powerful athletic department in the Big Ten recently spoke with USC athletic director Mike Bohn on his own podcast and outright said the Big Ten has already added the teams from the Pac-12 it views as valuable enough to make things work.
On the most recent episode of his podcast, Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said, “When you think about it, there were really only two schools that made sense for us, and it’s USC and UCLA.”
What the Big Ten does next is the question everyone is asking. The league signed a record media rights deal with FOX, CBS, and NBC that will flood the league’s coffers with cash. When UCLA and USC join the fold, the league will be 16-deep. Many have speculated the Big Ten could expand to or beyond 20 members.
If it does, Oregon and Washington are programs that come up in every single expansion conversation.
The Mercury News’ Jon Wilner reported in late August that the Buckeyes stand in opposition to further expansion from the Big Ten, tweeting that Ohio State does not support additional moves being made by the league after adding USC and UCLA. This latest comment from Smith — however off-hand it might seem — would fall in line with that.
It’s worth pointing out that Smith and the Buckeyes haven’t always gotten what they wanted. They wanted to play football in 2020 when the Big Ten initially decided to shut the league down. (Kevin Warren and the league’s leadership group eventually backed off that decision.) Smith was also content to sit after the league added Maryland.
The Big Ten certainly won’t want to put itself at odds with Ohio State, but if the money is right for further expansion it becomes a different conversation. A cost analysis conducted by FiveThirtyEight managing editor Nate Silver earlier this summer labeled Oregon and Washington as no-brainer additions for the league, and also included Cal and Stanford among the 10 most attractive potential adds.
It’s also not ultimately up to Smith. The league’s Council of Presidents and Chancellors will have the final say-so.
But with expansion rumors surrounding the Big Ten swirling again in recent days, it’s certainly notable that Smith is being this direct.