The addition of two Los Angeles-based schools makes the Big Ten the first coast-to-coast football conference and brings membership to 16 teams.
The decision has fueled speculation that the Big Ten is setting their sights on adding more members to increase its control over the sport.
But according to Iowa Athletics Director Gary Barta, the Big Ten appears content to sit where it is and boost its holdings.
“I know the Big Ten have taken calls, and they notify us when they get the calls just so we have a general idea,” Barta, who was a one-time chair of the College Football Extension Selection Committee, told reporters.
“But if I’m expecting, I don’t expect we’ll be adding more in the near future. We’ll see.”
Barta confirmed that leaders within Big Ten talked about expanding the conference to include Notre Dame following news that the Securities and Exchange Commission would add Texas and Oklahoma.
But nothing came of this interest and the Big Ten pressed for expansion.
That is, until USC and UCLA apply to join the conference. Given the current and future economic landscape, the Big Ten had no practical choice but to accept.
It’s better to have two major programs in the country’s second largest media market at your conference than to have another program and help a competitor.
As always, the question of Notre Dame still hangs over the final phase of college football’s reorganization.
The school maintained its independence in football thanks to a generous deal with NBC and continued access to College Football Playoff.
But if either changes, Notre Dame may be open to joining.
Barta said the Big Ten did not really want to add the Irish, but it is likely that the official decision on the matter will come immediately.
“I don’t expect this to be a decision I will make this summer,” he said. “But again, I don’t have a crystal ball. But it is not in front of us now.”
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