I was not expecting breaking college football news today but that’s what we all got: USC and UCLA are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big 10. You can find all the takes and coverage elsewhere. (Here is Wilner’s aftermath column.)
What does it mean for the Mythical California Cup? As Wilner says, “The California Four, which has served as the heart of the Pac-12 for eons, is no more.” It seems pretty clear that a century long chapter of California college football will end in 2024. We are certainly several Bayesian steps closer to a world where there’s another Lindy “extinction event” and several California programs cease. There have been 10 or 11 MCC games in each of the last 13 full seasons. It doesn’t seem like there’s a way we go up from here. (Even if the two LA schools are replaced in some new PAC-12 with say, Fresno and SDSU, that’s just an even up replacement in conference games, and they come at the replacement of potential intra-California games that might have happened anyway. It’s not like any California colleges are adding FCS football any time soon. This isn’t the 1970s.)
USC and UCLA remain California schools that will play many fewer games against fellow California schools. (Although presumably their head-to-head rivalry game will remain.) So at the worst we go from six guaranteed games to two.
The “California Four” was a perfect symmetry: two public, two private. Two from the Bay Area, two from LA. One school on each side of the state’s two biggest mega metro areas. Two red, two blue. Oh well. It was a fun 107 years. Dumb little projects like this one at least give me some way to reshape the narrative a little bit.
(Maybe now Cal can make the Rose Bowl?)