INDIANAPOLIS — California powerhouses USC and UCLA are slated to compete in the BIG 10 come 2024. The two schools are more than 1,500 miles away from their closest future BIG 10 opponent.
We talked to BIG 10 fans in Monument Circle to see how they were receiving the news.
”Doesn’t seem right man, it’s like Pac 12, isn’t it?” asked Indy native Mike Beell. “I like keeping everything BIG 10, Midwest.”
”I was definitely surprised, it came out of nowhere,” said current IU Bloomington Junior Luke Pratt. “I guess it’s good for the BIG 10 to financially compete with the SEC.”
We even ran into some fans from UCLA and USC’s current conference, the PAC 12.
”It doesn’t make sense, I don’t know why they would jump out for something like that, they’re two very dominant teams,” said Jack Wright, an Arizona St. fan from Phoenix in Indy this week for a volleyball tournament.
The addition of USC and UCLA would expand the BIG 10 conference from 14 to 16 schools, and take the PAC 12 down to 10 schools.
”Losing teams like that, you can’t replace USC, UCLA,” Wright said. “They are dominant across the board, not just in one sport, in all venues, so it’s a big hit for the PAC 12.”
But what could this mean for Indy? In the past six months, the Circle City has hosted the BIG 10 Football Championship and the BIG 10 Basketball Tournament. Nate Swick of Visit Indy said he sees it as an opportunity to create new fans.
”New fans in the city is really just an opportunity for repeat visitors, for them to fall in love with Indianapolis and come back again, and again, and again,” Swick said.
Swick said there are plenty of reasons for folks from California to be impressed with what Indy has to offer.
”I think they’ll be impressed with our downtown core, by our sporting venues, by our vibrant restaurants and cultural districts,” he said.
In general, fans we talked to were excited about the idea of new opponents for their favorite teams to play, but not for how long it would take their teams to get to their new opponents.
”They catching a flight they should be good, if they’re riding a bus that will be a long trip,” Beell said.
The distance between USC and UCLA and Purdue and Indiana is about 2100 miles. That’s a four-hour plane ride for the football team, but a 31-hour car ride for fans trying to make the trek out there.
The two new schools on the block would have to cross the entire country to play their farthest opponent, Rutgers. Almost 2,800 miles separate Los Angeles and Newark.
The first chance for USC or UCLA to make their way to Indy could be for the 2024 BIG 10 Championship game at Lucas Oil Stadium.
”It would be weird seeing like a USC and Ohio State or IU hopefully,” said Pratt. “BIG 10 Championship football so we’ll see what happens.”
At the very least, it’s safe to say Hoosiers would welcome their new California rivals with open arms.
”You get to walk around, see the circle, just check out what we got here in Indianapolis,” Beell said.
As for Indy possibly having to compete with LA in the future for BIG 10 events, the Indiana Sports Corp said it looks forward to talking about future hosting opportunities with the Big 10 Conference and it’s accustomed to the competition when bringing sporting events to Indy.