The college sports world changed forever on Thursday when USC and UCLA bolted the Pac-12 Conference in favor of the Big Ten Conference.
Both schools are based in Southern California and will have to travel a great distance across the country in order to compete with the other 14 teams in the conference, which are based in the Midwest and Northeast.
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Initial reports of USC and UCLA’s departure to the Big Ten developed rapidly on Thursday morning, as the conference formally acknowledged that the two schools will join in 2024.
The Big Ten’s new acquisition is expected to have a ripple effect across the world of college sports, as other conferences, including the Big Ten themselves, could add more teams in order to cater to the new landscape that continues to widen the gap between the haves and the have nots.
As it pertains to University of Hawaii and other FBS schools, no conference outside of the Big 10 and SEC seem safe.
“Hawaii, at a time when it is perhaps most important to be as appealing and attractive as an athletic program as possible, you’re in a situation where you’re going up against some of the biggest levels of adversity that you’ve ever experienced,” Kanoa Leahey of Spectrum Sports and ESPN Honolulu told KHON2 sports director Rob DeMello in the wake of Thursday’s news.
“Anytime something like this happens, anytime change of a pretty extreme level occurs, you need champions and, yeah, maybe this is a wake-up call that the state legislature and other people that would have some influence, that could provide support and resources for Hawaii to get through what could be potentially a fairly turbulent and adverse situation, maybe this is something that wakes them up, maybe this is something that motivates them.
“I think even beyond that, in terms of the overall marketing strategy for Hawaii, whether it’s embracing being the last football game on a Saturday, the chaser game for the sports gamblers out there or trying to extend its appeal and marketing into areas of Asia to create a bigger marketing footprint for itself, I think this is going to be a comprehensive type of thing for Hawaii in trying to build itself as an attractive entity overall at a time where everything continues to change in college sports.”