Oct 13, 2021; San Francisco, CA, USA; Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff speaks to the media during the Pac-12 men   s basketball media day. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

Pac-12 commissioner cautions of ‘harm’ from USC, UCLA departures

Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff took an optimistic approach in his address at the opening of the conference’s media day Friday, while also chastising Southern California and UCLA for what he characterized as a money grab over their impending moves to the Big Ten.

While USC and UCLA will continue to participate in Pac-12 athletics for the next two academic years, their conference opponents starting in 2024 all will reside in the Midwest or in the East.

“Increased revenue can help us support our student-athletes but a singular focus on money will certainly cause more harm than good,” Kliavkoff said.

Some of that harm for student-athletes, according to Kliavkoff, could come in the form of longer travel for the departing programs, which now ill be subject to more difficult travel requirements.

“Our long-term measure for the success of college athletics cannot be how much money we consolidate into 10 or five or two conferences, but rather should be our ability to support the largest number of student-athletes while still facilitating competition between schools and conferences,” Kliavkoff said in prepared remarks. “We should be measuring how many lives we can change.”

But he stopped short of burning a bridge in the relationship with both Los Angeles-based schools, particularly with UCLA.

“There are a lot of constituents related to UCLA who are very, very, very unhappy with the decision,” he said. “Student-athletes, the families of student-athletes. The faculty, the staff. The politicians, the fans, the alumni. There’s a lot of really, really upset people with that decision …

“I think it is unlikely. But if they come back, we welcome them back.”

While the Pac-12 is actively exploring the addition of new member schools, it also is not done with the Los Angeles area despite the upcoming departure of the only two Division I football programs in the region.

“Southern California is really important to us,” Kliavkoff said. “I think there are different ways of approaching staying part of Southern California. We may end up playing a lot of football games in L.A.”

–Field Level Media

Apr 23, 2022; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Southern California Trojans coach Lincoln Riley during the spring game at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Big Ten adding UCLA, USC in 2024 as full members; chasing others?

UCLA and USC are being welcomed to the Big Ten in 2024 without the customary waiting period to be recognized as vested members of the conference.

The move runs counter to the six-year vesting period the Big Ten established when Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska were added.

Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren said Tuesday at media days in Indianapolis that the decision reflects the importance of adding the Pac-12 powerhouses from Los Angeles to the vast league, which will have teams in three time zones.

“USC and UCLA will come in as members,” Warren said. “We think that’s important for various reasons. They bring a lot of value to our relationship. They bring a lot of panache to our relationship, and we look forward to welcoming them into the Big Ten family here in 2024.”

The share of league revenue for each institution will be determined when the conference begins a new media rights deal in 2023. Los Angeles is the No. 2 media market, and the expectation is the league’s take could grow beyond $1 billion annually.

“I don’t want to guess what that would be. I know we’ll reach that decision here pretty quickly,” Warren said Tuesday.

Warren said the Big Ten would not apologize for the “strength, power, boldness” of expansion, nor would the commissioner rule out adding other schools.

“We will not expand just to expand. It will be strategic. It will add additional value to our conference,” he said.

“We are currently in a landscape in college athletics that is changing on a daily basis. … The Big Ten conference will not languish in bureaucracy.”

–Field Level Media

Quarterback Arch Manning will be headed to Austin.

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Arch Manning falls from No. 1 in ESPN rankings

Arch Manning fell from No. 1 in ESPN’s updated Class of 2023 rankings on Monday, meaning he no longer is the consensus top player in the class.

Instead, ESPN pushed Southern California QB commit Malachi Nelson into the top spot.

ESPN explained the decision this way:

“With Nelson, we have seen a larger sample size, and the 6-foot-3, 185-pound quarterback has faced a higher level of competition for Los Alamitos High School (California),” ESPN’s analysts wrote. “He has also developed physically, which has led to more arm velocity. In our multiple in-person evaluations this spring and summer, our biggest observation from Nelson has been the growth beyond physical maturity as we see a more seasoned leader. His abilities in game, as well as his performances at camps and combines, make us confident he is now the No. 1 quarterback in the class.”

Manning remains No. 1 in the rankings of 247Sports, Rivals and On3. He fell to No. 2 on ESPN’s list.

Nelson committed to Oklahoma last July but backed out of the pledge when head coach Lincoln Riley departed for USC in November. Two days later, Nelson committed to USC, which is about 25 miles from Los Alamitos.

Manning, the nephew of Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Peyton and Eli Manning, committed to Texas and coach Steve Sarkisian in June after being courted by the nation’s top programs. He is entering his senior season at Isidore Newman in New Orleans, where his uncles played.

–Field Level Media

Yellow Team defensive back Bennett Williams (15) dances to Shout during the Oregon Spring Game at Autzen Stadium on Saturday, April 23, 2022.

Pac-12 to explore expansion options to replace USC, UCLA

One day after the Southern California and UCLA announced their departures to the Big Ten, the Pac-12 vowed that it will “explore all expansion options” to keep the league thriving.

The Pac-12 Board of Directors met Friday morning to discuss the options after the stunning exits by USC and UCLA delivered a major blow to the conference.

“The 10 university presidents and chancellors remain committed to a shared mission of academics and athletic excellence on behalf of our student athletes,” the league said in a statement.

Also on Friday, reports circulated that Oregon and Washington conversed with the Big Ten and were told the conference was sticking at 16 members for now.

The two schools are on the backburner as the Big Ten makes another push at attracting Notre Dame, a football independent whose basketball programs along with other sports are members of the Atlantic Coast Conference.

If Oregon and Washington were to exit the Pac-12, that would rate as another huge blow. The other eight Pac-12 schools are Arizona, Arizona State, Cal, Colorado, Oregon State, Stanford, Utah and Washington State.

There also is speculation that the two Arizona schools, Colorado and Utah could become a target for the Big 12.

As for the Pac-12, a bevy of Mountain West schools will be lining up hoping for an invitation.

UNLV features the world class Allegiant Stadium and the city of Las Vegas has exploded as a sports force in recent years.

San Diego State could fill the sudden Southern California void in the conference. San Diego is one of the largest cities in the country and the school is opening a new football stadium this season — though, at 35,000 seats, it is small for power conference standards. The facility does have room for expansion.

Boise State has enjoyed football success and is in close proximity to Washington State. However, the school’s football stadium of 36,387 seats isn’t a big-time facility. The school built a football operations facility directly behind the north end zone, limiting expansion opportunities.

Fresno State is another California possibility, while Colorado State (located an hour north of Denver) could merit a look.

There also could be the possibility of some Big 12 members looking westward. At this point, there are numerous schools who want to make sure they don’t get left behind in the current frenzy that began last year when Big 12 powers Oklahoma and Texas announced their upcoming departures to the SEC.

–Field Level Media

Nov 20, 2021; Los Angeles, California, USA;  UCLA Bruins running back Kazmeir Allen (19) catches a touchdown pass against Southern California Trojans cornerback Isaac Taylor-Stuart (6) in the first half at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports

Reports: USC, UCLA planning jump to Big Ten in 2024

Southern Cal and UCLA are planning to leave the Pac-12 for the Big Ten as early as 2024, the Bay Area News Group and The Athletic reported Thursday.

The move has not been finalized “at the highest levels of power,” per the bombshell report, and The Athletic noted legally guided steps that must be followed for either university to change conferences.

USC joined the conference in 1922 while UCLA joined in 1928.

The Big Ten last expanded in 2014 with the additions of Rutgers and Maryland.

–Field Level Media

Oct 4, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; A general view of Ford Field before then game between the Detroit Lions and the New Orleans Saints. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

USC athletics chief of staff takes front-office job with Lions

Southern California’s chief of staff for athletics, who had a key role in the football program, is heading to the Detroit Lions.

Brandon Sosna, part of USC’s staff since December 2019, will become senior director of football administration in Detroit, The Athletic reported.

Sosna followed USC athletic director Mike Bohn from the University of Cincinnati to Los Angeles and was given oversight of the football program. He reportedly was a key player in luring new Trojans coach Lincoln Riley from Oklahoma following the 2021 season.

Forbes named Sosna to its “30 under 30” list in 2020. Sosna has NFL experience, working under then-general manager John Dorsey with the Cleveland Browns in 2017-18 in areas such as salary cap management, contract negotiations and player valuations.

Lions coach Dan Campbell confirmed Sosna was joining the Lions but told reporters Thursday he wasn’t prepared to discuss Sosna’s responsibilities.

“I would rather just go a little more in depth later on about all that,” Campbell said. “I’ll be honest with you, I didn’t think I was gonna be talking about that right now, so I don’t want to talk out of place with it.”

Sosna is a 2015 graduate of Penn with a degree in political science.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) runs after a catch against the Michigan State Spartans at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt WR Jordan Addison picks Southern Cal

Wide receiver Jordan Addison announced Thursday that he will transfer from Pitt to Southern California.

Addison, a consensus All-American and the reigning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner for the best receiver in college football, appeared in the transfer portal earlier this month.

“The last few weeks have been very difficult,” Addison wrote in a social media post. “I struggled with my decision as to whether I should exercise my right to enter the portal. Student athletes have not always had that opportunity, and I made that choice.”

Addison went on to express his love and gratitude for Pitt, his teammates and coach Pat Narduzzi.

“I love them,” he wrote. “Winning an ACC championship is ours forever. Those true friendships will last.”

Addison had a breakout year as a sophomore, hauling in 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns while playing with Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett as his quarterback. Addison added 56 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground as the Panthers won their first ACC championship in football.

The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported in late April that the Pitt football program believed USC and new coach Lincoln Riley tampered with Addison before he entered the portal. Addison also considered Texas and Alabama before picking the Trojans.

Riley, who left Oklahoma for the USC job in November, already added 15 players to the program via the transfer portal as of April. They include former Oklahoma quarterback Caleb Williams, former Oregon running back Travis Dye and former Colorado wide receiver Brenden Rice, the son of Jerry Rice.

–Field Level Media

Dec 18, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Southern California Trojans wide receiver Bru McCoy (4) is defended by Oregon Ducks cornerback Mykael Wright (2) during the Pac-12 Championship at United Airlines Field at Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. Oregon defeated USC 31-24. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former USC receiver Bru McCoy transfers to Tennessee

Former Southern California wide receiver Bru McCoy announced on social media Tuesday that he has committed to transfer to Tennessee.

McCoy, who has played just one season of college football and sat out two others, was in the transfer portal for the third time.

McCoy was a five-star recruit in the Class of 2019 out of Ranchos Palos Verde, Calif., ranked the No. 9 overall player in the class in the 247Sports composite.

He enrolled at USC in January 2019 but changed his mind and transferred to Texas. Less than six months later, he had decided to transfer back to USC.

McCoy sat out the 2019 season at USC because of an illness before compiling 21 catches for 236 yards and two touchdowns as a redshirt freshman in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season.

He never got into a game during 2021 following an arrest on suspicion of domestic violence. Charges against McCoy eventually were dropped, but the Trojans never reinstated him.

The Volunteers went 7-6 (4-4 SEC) in 2021 and are being projected as a potential preseason top 25 team for 2022, with last year’s starting quarterback Hendon Hooker (2,945 yards, 31 touchdowns, three picks) among those returning.

–Field Level Media

Dec 30, 2021; Atlanta, GA, USA; Pittsburgh Panthers wide receiver Jordan Addison (3) is tackled by Michigan State Spartans safety Xavier Henderson (3) after a long pass reception during the first half during the 2021 Peach Bowl at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Pitt All-American WR Jordan Addison enters transfer portal

Pitt wide receiver Jordan Addison, a consensus All-American and the reigning Fred Biletnikoff Award winner for the best receiver in college football, officially appeared in the transfer portal Tuesday.

Multiple media reports that appeared as early as last week said Addison was expected to depart Pitt for Southern California and join new coach Lincoln Riley. The Pitt football program believed that the Trojans tampered with Addison to sway him to transfer, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

The newspaper also reported, citing sources, that Addison is being offered a “multimillion-dollar” name, image and likeness deal to play for the Trojans.

Players must be in the portal for coaches at other schools to contact them, leading to some speculation among fans that Riley and USC could have tampered.

Sunday was the deadline for fall and winter athletes to enter the portal in order to remain immediately eligible to play in 2022-23. But Addison’s name only appeared Tuesday once his paperwork had gone through, ESPN reported.

Addison has not made a final decision on whether to go to USC, find another program or return to Pitt, multiple reports added.

Addison had a breakout year as a sophomore, hauling in 100 receptions for 1,593 yards and 17 touchdowns while playing with Heisman Trophy finalist Kenny Pickett as his quarterback. Addison added 56 rushing yards and one touchdown on the ground as the Panthers won their first ACC championship in football.

Pickett was the first quarterback taken in last week’s NFL draft, 20th overall to the Pittsburgh Steelers. One player competing for Pitt’s starting job in 2022 is Kedon Slovis, who transferred this offseason, ironically, from USC.

–Field Level Media

Oklahoma State fans hold up newspapers with a picture of former OU football coach Lincoln Riley during Oklahoma's introduction before a Bedlam basketball game between the University of Oklahoma Sooners (OU) and the Oklahoma State University Cowboys (OSU) at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater, Saturday, Feb. 5, 2022.

Bedlam Basketball

Lincoln Riley asserts he didn’t poach Oklahoma players

New Southern California coach Lincoln Riley said Tuesday that he didn’t bring any players from Oklahoma with him to Los Angeles — he got them from the transfer portal.

Riley made the comments during an interview on “The Herd with Colin Cowherd.”

Cowherd asked Riley if it was sensitive bringing OU transfers Caleb Williams, wide receiver Mario Williams and cornerback Latrell McCutchin to the Trojans.

Riley agreed that it was, but that he didn’t.

“We didn’t take players from Oklahoma. We took players from the transfer portal,” Riley told Cowherd. “Those players and their families had to make a decision to either stay at that university, just like any other player has to make, or to enter the portal where then they can be recruited by anybody in the country. That’s up to those players and their families and we have nothing to do with that.

“But once a player gets into a portal where they are open to any school in the country, we would be crazy not to take a look at and try to help our football team,” Riley went on. “All of a sudden they were good enough for us to take at Oklahoma, but now we wouldn’t give them a chance just because we’re in a new spot? That part never really made sense to me.”

Caleb Williams took over the starting job six games into the 2021 season under Riley at OU and finished the season with 1,912 passing yards and 21 touchdowns against four interceptions. Williams rushed for another 442 yards, scoring six touchdowns.

When he first entered the portal, Williams’ father, Carl Williams, said the quarterback “doesn’t have a destination” picked out.

Mario Williams, who is unrelated to Caleb, caught 35 passes for 380 yards and four TDs as a freshman in 2021.

–Field Level Media