Ohio State AD: Big Ten didn't add USC, UCLA 'in response to the SEC'

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A year after the SEC agreed to bring in Texas and Oklahoma from the Big 12 to create a 16-team super conference, the Big Ten made a similar move, announcing the addition of USC and UCLA from the Pac-12 on Thursday.

Ohio State athletic director Gene Smith said Friday that the new-look SEC didn't influence the Big Ten's decision to accept the two Pac-12 powerhouses.

"We weren't doing it in response to the SEC. We were doing it for our needs," Smith said, according to Joey Kaufman of The Columbus Dispatch.

With USC and UCLA joining in 2024, the Big Ten will feature 16 teams, the same as the SEC once Texas and Oklahoma officially join the conference ahead of the 2025 season. The Big 12 also made its own moves after losing its powerhouses, adding BYU, Cincinnati, Houston, and UCF in 2023.

Ohio State president Kristina Johnson expects more conference changes to follow suit.

Smith hopes the Big Ten also adds Notre Dame, though that would require the Fighting Irish's football team to lose its independent status.

"I love my alma mater, and I've always thought they should be in a conference. … I hope they consider it, and I hope it's the Big Ten," he said, according to The Athletic's Bill Landis.

Notre Dame joined the ACC in 2012 in all sports except football and hockey.

The Big Ten's current media rights deal with ESPN and Fox runs through 2022-23. The conference's next deal was expected to pay around $70 million per member school before it added USC and UCLA, according to Nathan Baird of Cleveland.com.

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Ohio State AD: Big Ten didn't add USC, UCLA 'in response to the SEC'
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