Only Room for One Blue and Yellow Team

Why Michigan Football Should Oppose the Addition of UCLA and USC to the Big Ten

On the surface, the University of California – Los Angeles and the University of Michigan – Ann Arbor have a lot in common. Blue and yellow are each school’s primary colors, each boast an undergraduate population of about 30,000 students, and each vie to be considered the #1 best public school in the nation (U.S. News has UCLA, WSJ/Times Higher Education picked Michigan). Academics, athletics, and social connections are all prioritized highly at both institutions. 

College sports Twitter exploded on Thursday as news broke that two additional schools, the University of Southern California and UCLA, are looking to conference-hop from the Pac-12 to the Big Ten in 2024. After learning of the two Los Angeles college teams’ desires to move to the Midwest, Big Ten presidents purportedly met to discuss what this would mean for the future of the conference. They then conducted an internal straw poll on whether to allow these teams to join the 14-team league. The results of said poll?

“It wasn’t close. They agreed to expand the conference.”

First, it has become clear that President Coleman voted to include our academic rival, UCLA, in our football conference… therefore I will be introducing impeachment proceedings against her (is that even a thing for public universities?). We already have the intellectual advantage over *the* OSU and Michigan State- while our football prowess varies from year to year, our academic prowess never wavers. We also annually cream Big Ten member schools like Northwestern while acknowledging that their average intellect is at least as good, if not better, than ours. Adding UCLA to the mix brings the potential for frightening consequences as they transform from pure academic rivals to athletic competitors, too. I can’t bear the thought of losing to a school that’s both smarter and better on the field. 

Second, the Big Ten is already too big- it’s literally in the name that it should be home to ten college football programs. We founded the damn thing, so we belong. Penn State became the 11th member of the program in 1994 after forty years of a ten-team conference- they, Rutgers, Maryland, and Nebraska technically never should have joined. Due to proximal location for PSU and Nebraska, I’ll allow their accession to the gloriously Midwestern Big Ten to stand. But Rutgers and Maryland were clearly only added to the conference to guarantee market access to New York and Washington, D.C. media. 

UCLA and USC are attempting to rescue themselves from a faltering conference by abandoning their own hometown in the name of money.

Third, how would this even work? The Big Ten already spans two time zones, from central Jersey to eastern Nebraska. Adding two California schools with players who likely can count the number of snowy days they’ve experienced on one hand is a recipe for injury and overall disaster for any of their Michigan, Minnesota, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Michigan State games- practically half of the conference. 

Michigan and UCLA have only met 11 times since the 1950s, 8 of which resulted in a Wolverine victory. Their record in the Big House? 1-6. “The move would be a devastating blow for the Pac-12, which relies on the Los Angeles media market” as a primary funding source, reports popular sports blog 247Sports. UCLA and USC are attempting to rescue themselves from a faltering conference by abandoning their own hometown in the name of money- something that I am certain the recent Name, Image, and Likeness ruling will only empower. 

We already have the intellectual advantage over *the* OSU and Michigan State- while our football prowess varies from year to year, our academic prowess never wavers.

USC and UCLA are chasing the clout that Oklahoma and Texas received a year ago when they formally voted to leave the Big 12 conference and join the SEC, consistently the best college football conference in the nation. But for two regionally Southern schools to leave a regionally Southern/Midwestern conference and join another regionally Southern conference isn’t that unthinkable, logistics-wise. For UCLA football to play at least four games a season in a different climate with at least two hours’ time difference, is just plain absurd.

The last thing we need is another sports rival (other than a potential Notre Dame rivalry, given  that they’re conference-less); with the similar academic and population makeup between UCLA and Michigan, a “best public rivalry” is bound to manifest if this program joins the Big Ten. Our conference is perfect as it stands- there’s no place for valley girls, B-list celebrities, and juice cleanse enthusiasts in the hearty Midwest. 

On the upside, though, the Rose Bowl is lovely this time of year-

as it is every other time of the year. 

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About Lindsay Keiser

Lindsay Keiser is a junior studying political science and astronomy. She also serves as the editor in chief of the Michigan Journal of Political Science and writes for Young Voices. In her free time, she enjoys lifting weights and participating in her sorority.