The Wolverine

August 2022*

The Wolverine: Covering University of Michigan Football and Sports

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AUGUST 2022 THE WOLVERINE 9 BY ANTHONY BROOME T he world of college sports was rocked in late June by the news that UCLA and USC would be joining the Big Ten Conference, effective Aug. 2, 2024. This was met with warm welcomes from the current member institutions, including leadership at the University of Michigan. "We are pleased to confirm this deci- sion and extend a warm welcome to our newest members, both of which are re- nowned research universities, members of the Association of American Univer- sities and championship-level athletic departments," a joint statement from ath- letics director Warde Manuel and interim president Mary Sue Coleman said. UCLA brings 25 varsity teams into the Big Ten: baseball, football; women's beach volleyball, gymnastics, rowing, softball and swimming and diving; and both men's and women's programs in basketball, cross country, golf, soccer, tennis, track and field, volleyball and wa- ter polo. Crosstown rival USC has 21 teams in varsity athletics: baseball, football; wom- en's beach volleyball, cross country, la- crosse, rowing and soccer; and both men's and women's programs in basketball, golf, swimming and diving, tennis, track and field, volleyball and water polo. Michigan football has a storied history with both Los Angeles schools. The Wol- verines hold an 8-3 advantage over UCLA, while USC has a 6-4 advantage on the gridiron. UCLA has won 13 of 19 match- ups in men's basketball, while USC has a 77-63 win over Michigan in the teams' only matchup on Dec. 27, 1981. "From a financial and TV product standpoint, this is excellent for [the Big Ten and college football]," former Michi- gan football tight end Jake Butt wrote in a series of tweets. "Players want to play good on good. Fans want to see good on good. Advertisers want to pay good on good. More revenue is good for everyone. This was inevitable. And I can't wait to watch." The Big Ten's decision to add a pair of schools in the LA market was considered a surprise, but the bold step is the latest in a changing landscape. "The move is stunning, yet somehow, not surprising at all," Dan Wetzel of Ya- hoo! Sports said. "It is tectonic in nature for college sports overall and cataclys- mic for many portions of it, namely the Pac-12 schools left behind. It would be a huge victory for the Big Ten, as long as you discount 'tradition,' which the league did years ago, or cries of 'hypocrisy.' "It is the next step in the evolution to a smaller, rich super conference setup at the top. The Big Ten and the SEC have televi- sion deals that dwarf the competition. The Big 12 and Pac-12 are now gutted." "What we have is just a battle of the two behemoths, and that's the SEC and the Big Ten," SEC Network's Paul Finebaum said. "This is similar to what's going on Wall Street between the biggest compa- nies vying for your dollar. That's what this is about. This is about money. "Don't let any college commissioner or president tell you otherwise. They're a greedy bunch. That's what they care about, and the students who happen to play athletics are the pawn in this big prize." Many believe that the Big Ten is not yet done adding teams to the conference and will be aiming to secure its spot as a su- perpower in the next era of college sports. The biggest target on the board remains Notre Dame, which has a storied history of rebuffing the Big Ten's advances. With swift change coming to the na- tional dynamic, all eyes are on Notre Dame's next move before the musical chairs get pulled away. "Notre Dame knows it needs to model out its next move, even if that move isn't imminent," Pete Sampson of The Ath- letic wrote. "What does life in the Big Ten look like in terms of scheduling, travel and protecting rivalries? How does the media rights revenue split work? What about the exit fee to the ACC and how it's financed? Who's the broadcast partner? "These are questions Notre Dame would need answered with the Big Ten before making a decision. The money on the table for Notre Dame could be trans- formative. But the school doesn't need to run blindly toward it. "Notre Dame may not be the first ac- tor to move in this drama [thanks to USC and UCLA], but it won't be the last. As for all the questions about 'When will we know?' — months feels like a better bet than weeks or years." ❑ Inside Michigan ATHLETICS Big Ten Sends Shockwaves Through College Sports With Additions Of UCLA, USC; Is Notre Dame Next? Michigan's athletics teams will now face the USC and UCLA on a regular basis when the Pac-12 stalwarts officially join the Big Ten in August 2024. The Wolverines last played the Trojans in football on Jan. 1, 2007 (a 32-18 loss in the Rose Bowl despite Chad Henne passing for 309 yards and 2 TDs). PHOTO COURTESY MICHIGAN PHOTOGRAPHY

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