How USC football's recruiting footprint in the Midwest could change

Leon McQuay III, USC Football, USC Trojans
Leon McQuay III, USC Football, USC Trojans / Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

There are many reasons as to why USC football is making the transition to the Big Ten.

Moving to a better football and basketball conference as a whole was of course important, getting out of the Pac-12's awful media deal was important, not having to get the same revenue with SC's brand and market value that the OSU's and WSU's of the conference are getting was important, and leaving a conference that did absolutely nothing to prevent USC from getting hit with a grossly unfair 'Death Penalty' for Reggie Bush taking money to LEAVE (and not come to) the program was important, among even more reasons.

One of those "even more reasons" is a complicated one. It may not even turn out to be a "reason." It's the ability to potentially expand SC's recruiting footprint.

And, on one hand, that's very possible to happen with USC moving to the Big Ten. One thing everyone knows about these recruits is that one of the biggest deciding factors for them is whether they'll be able to play in big games or not.

USC football will be playing in far more big games in the Big Ten than they will in the Pac-12.

Take a look at the biggest four college football matchups possible with USC football in the Pac-12: USC vs. Washington, USC vs. Oregon, USC vs. UCLA, and USC vs. Utah. Be honest, it's easy to sit back and yawn at that list of the most enticing matchups. USC is the only blueblood there.

Now, take a look at the biggest four college football matchups possible with USC football in the Big Ten: USC vs. Michigan, USC vs. Ohio State, USC vs. Nebraska (yes, any blueblood matchup is important to college football), and USC vs. Penn State. Five bluebloods.

37 national championships between these five teams, compared to 14 between the five Pac-12 teams. Every one of these blueblood matchups is going to get MAJOR press, every one of these blueblood matchups is going to get some of the most eyeballs out of any game during the week on the TV for the game, and every one of these blueblood matchups is going to generate enormous crowds and incredibly high anticipation for the contest.

That's not the case for the four Pac-12 matchups--at LEAST not at the same level. If kids want to play in big games when they're in college, then USC could see a jolt in recruiting with the conference change. Also, it's a much better and more respected conference in general. Many kids grow up dreaming of playing in the Big Ten--not as much the Pac-12.

That's where the recruiting specifically in the Midwest could see a strong boost. Kids in the Midwest dream of playing for Ohio State, Michigan, Penn State, Nebraska, etc. so that they can compete in the fierce and prestigious Big Ten conference. Now, they get a FIFTH blueblood to choose from.

Perhaps they like the idea of living in L.A., and now have the chance to play in the Big Ten and against all the teams they dreamt of playing against while they get to live in one of the most famous cities in the world. Not to mention, it's the second-biggest media market in the country.

Besides, everyone knows that when USC is performing how they can, they're at the top of the college football world. That's not hyperbolic.

Which program from 2002-2008 other than USC had seven straight top four finishes, three National Championship appearances, two National Championship wins, and six New Year's Six Bowl wins? Literally nobody, but that's what SC did the last time they had an elite coach.

Now, they have another elite coach in Lincoln Riley, and are on the path to a similar level of dominance. Recruits will be taking notice. Previously, hardly any Midwestern recruits were taking notice. Why would they? They want to play in the conference they grew up with.

Look at how dominant Texas A&M has become in recruiting ever since they left the Big 12 for the SEC?

There are more kids in the South that want to play in the SEC over the Big 12, and A&M being the only Tier 1/Tier 2 program in Texas to enter the SEC catered to not only the kids in Texas who want to play in the SEC, but opened the floodgates on players in other parts of SEC country to be able to pick yet another Tier 1/Tier 2 college football program to play at.

And now, it's even got to the point where they just secured the greatest recruiting class in college football history in 2022. Again, it remains to be seen whether USC can take this type of jump, but it's possible the program can see new advantages in recruiting with the conference change.

Especially because players that wanted to play at USC from the Midwest in the past were of course discouraged by the reality that if they went to play for SC, their parents wouldn't be able to come watch them play.

It's a long drive from State College to Los Angeles. And even if they wanted to watch them on TV, they'd sometimes have to stay up until 11:30 at night just for the game to start. Now, they won't have to stay up for start times to watch their kids play, and they will have options to drive to games with their kids playing within their region.

dark. Next. USC football's record against every Big Ten school

Will USC's recruiting footprint change? Will it change specifically in the Midwest? Well, it remains to be seen. Is there a chance, though? Absolutely. And if it does, and clicks to the extent that a conference change clicked for Texas A&M, this conference change could be the best thing that ever happened to the Trojan football program.