The USC Trojans are greatly harming their competitive relevance by heading to the Big Ten. Will the move solidify them as a has-been program?
When looking at the names of schools that are known for dominating modern college football, several of them have one thing in common: they aren’t dominating anymore.
While some of them, like Florida State, have fallen off rather recently, there are some others who have struggled to maintain relevance for the last 20 years or so. A couple of larger examples that have had that level of misfortune would be programs like Nebraska and Tennessee.
But with some of this latest college football news coming out, it appears as if the USC Trojans could be thrown onto that list in the near future.
For starters, many would argue that USC football is already on said list, as the Trojans haven’t even competed for a national title since their 2006 Rose Bowl loss to the Texas Longhorns.
However, they have nonetheless competed for one since the last time either Nebraska or Tennessee has, while also having more seasons of eight wins or more than those two have had in the last 15 years, so it’s fair to say that they have done a noticeably better job at staying somewhat in the spotlight. But, even that is looking to become a thing of the past now.
Last week, the Trojans announced that they will begin playing in the Big Ten in 2024. This means that their toughest league competition will go from Utah and Oregon to Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Wisconsin, Iowa, and so on.
It is a monumental task to switch conferences in the first place, as the jarring change of pace and unfamiliar competition is extremely difficult to get accustomed to overnight, but taking a leap in league formidability as steep as the one that USC football is taking here will be nightmarish at best.
And the worst part is that those aforementioned Big Ten teams don’t appear to be planning on slowing down anytime soon, as all of the following has happened over the course of these last two seasons: Ohio State has made another national championship appearance, Michigan has made its first playoff appearance, Michigan State has had an 11-win season, Wisconsin has seen its 20th consecutive winning season, and Iowa has won its division.
All of that goes without even mentioning names like Penn State and Minnesota, as the former has only seen one losing record since 2004, while the latter has hit nine wins or more in its last two full seasons.
It’s a rather basic equation: the USC Trojans haven’t come close to winning anything in recent memory despite playing in a weak conference, and they will now be going to a much stronger one. Therefore, the underwhelming nature of their program today will most likely stick around until further notice.
In other words, if the USC football brand wasn’t already one of the several that have wilted with time, it will certainly become one of them soon enough.