Nebraska's Rhule says USC, UCLA joining the Big Ten makes the conference like the NFL
When USC and UCLA join the Big Ten in 2024, college football will have its first coast-to-coast conference. The Big Ten will stretch from New Jersey to Los Angeles, and it’ll boast some of the sports most storied programs.
Ohio State, Michigan, USC, and Nebraska in the same conference? Depending on who you ask, that’s half of college football’s blue-blood class.
And Nebraska head coach Matt Rhule says the additions of the Trojans and Bruins will make the Big Ten feel more like the NFL.
“I’m a traditionalist,” Rhule said of Big Ten expansion on a recent episode of The Next Round podcast. “I miss the old conferences I grew up on, but that’s not where we are. It is what it is.
“I think it’s a really good thing for the Big Ten moving forward in that we’re kind of like the NFL, we’re kind of a national conference that stretches from the West Coast all the way across to the East Coast. For me, it kind of positions us in a good place in that we’re in the middle of the country. So we go out to UCLA and USC, it doesn’t tax our bodies too much.
“…It’ll be interesting to see what Penn State and Rutgers and USC and UCLA, the accommodations they have to make going across the country. But Lincoln Riley is a great coach, Chip Kelly is a great coach. Those programs are up and running. It will only make our conference better as we head into the 12-team playoff era.”
The current four-team College Football Playoff has never taken a two-loss team. A 12-team field, though… Would USC have gotten into the Playoff if the future model was in place last season? Based on the way the rankings turned out, that answer would be a yes.
USC went into conference championship weekend in a CFP spot and even with a loss to Utah in the championship game, it would have made the CFP in a 12-team field. And in the Big Ten, the Trojans are more likely to get the benefit of the doubt should they stumble a couple of times in the regular season.
They’ll certainly be tested. In that way, Rhule likening the future Big Ten to the NFL makes some sense as well. The league is going to be an all-out battle featuring some of the sport’s best teams.