In less than two hours, the news that USC and UCLA were planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten moved from “nothing is final” to “essentially done.”

Jon Wilner reported Thursday afternoon that the two Los Angeles programs were seeking to join the Pac-12 but that the move had not yet been finalized “at the highest levels of power.” His tweet hit the timeline at 10:23 p.m. PT.

At 11:40 a.m. PT, ESPN’s Pete Thamel fired off a tweet that the move is a formality and a press conference officially announcing things is expected in the next 24 hours. Thamel reported that the move is “essentially done.”

It’s a stunning loss for the Pac-12, though not completely unsurprising from USC’s perspective.

According to Thamel, finances played a role in the decision, but so too did competitiveness, brand power, and the shifting ground underneath the sport.

From his reporting:

“USC and UCLA have to make the decisions to position them best for the long term,” said a source familiar with the move. “The future is so uncertain we need to be operating from a position of strength.”

The reason why this move would be less disruptive than potential moves in the ACC is that both USC and UCLA have grant of rights that are tied to the current Pac-12 television contract, which expires after the 2023 football season and 2023-24 school year. That’s why the expectation is that both schools can go to the league for the 2024-25 season and not suffer any financial penalty.