The Big Ten sent shockwaves through college football on Thursday, June 30 with its move to add USC and UCLA to the conference in 2024. The arrival of the Trojans and Bruins rivals the SEC's move to add Oklahoma and Texas by 2025 last season. However, is USC and UCLA all the Big Ten is planning and wants to add? Could there be more additions to come? The future of college football is unsettled, as everything from superconferences to uncertainty and potential changes in the Big 12, Pac-12 and ACC will run wild over the next couple of weeks.
Is the Big Ten finished with expansion? Is 16 teams where the Big Ten stops or are we headed to the first superconference with potentially 20 members? What if USC and UCLA aren't the only moves the conference can make this offseason or beyond? Here are the most likely candidates to join the Big Ten - if it expands beyond USC and UCLA at 16 teams.
Big Ten Football: Expansion Candidates to Join USC and UCLA in the Conference
Notre Dame (The Obvious Fit)
Getting Notre Dame to push aside FBS Independence for a conference is a tall order and probably unlikely. However, with college football seemingly changing and shifting by the hour, could the Big Ten's recent additions of USC and UCLA force the Fighting Irish to reconsider? If so, joining a national conference like the new 16-team Big Ten would have to be the preferred destination for Notre Dame. The Big Ten has tried before to get the Fighting Irish as a member of the league. And once again, this would be the No. 1 call if it wants to go beyond 16.
North Carolina is locked into the ACC thanks to a grant of rights deal until 2035-36, so this would be a long-term play - unless the conferences can find a way out of that deal. Adding the Tar Heels would bring a strong brand to the Big Ten, another East Coast member, and one of the top basketball programs in the nation. Additionally, there's plenty of potential (and resources) for the football program to improve its on-field product.
The Big Ten now has a national conference that spans from coast-to-coast. So why not add even more to the western portion of the conference? Oregon would make a ton of sense as a potential addition with a passionate fanbase and track record of winning at a high level.
If the Big Ten wants to add more members out west, Oregon and Washington as a package deal would give USC and UCLA needed company. The Huskies would add another big-time market (Seattle) and solid all-around athletic department.
If the Big Ten adds North Carolina, could it look to another North Carolina school to go to 18 or bigger? Duke would bring another strong academic institution to the Big Ten and top-tier basketball program. The ACC's grant of rights until 2035-36 would complicate any move by Duke to jump to the Big Ten.
The Second Tier
If the Big Ten wants to bolster its presence in California even more, adding the Golden Bears and the prestigious Berkeley campus would go over well at conference headquarters (and among conference presidents).
Yes, the Jayhawks have struggled with their football program in recent years. However, Kansas would bring another strong basketball brand to the conference and is located near two important media markets (St. Louis and Kansas City).
A strong academic profile and another program in the state of California to add rivals for USC and UCLA has to be appealing to many in the Big Ten.