The big numbers behind USC and UCLA Big Ten travel costs

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Goodbye, airborne siestas to northern California and quick flights of two hours or less to Colorado and the state of Arizona.

It’s time – in a few years – for USC and UCLA athletes to tie up their neck pillows, take a trip to the campus bookstore for some quality in-flight reading, and prepare for road trips. marathon across the country in Pennsylvania and Ohio.

With Thursday morning’s announcement that the Trojans and Bruins are leaving the Pac-12 for the Big Ten conference, traveling and working with athletes’ class schedules may prove more difficult on road trips given the location of the Big Ten. Conference programs are centered on the East Coast, such as Rutgers and Maryland, or clustered closer around the Great Lakes, such as the Northwest and Michigan State.

USC and UCLA Big Ten Travel Challenges

Nebraska players run on the field at Memorial Stadium in Lincoln before their spring game in April. Conference games against Nebraska — the Big Ten’s closest opponent to UCLA and USC — would always mean a long flight.

(Rebecca S. Gratz/Associated Press)

  • Say UCLA football had to take a road trip for an away game in Nebraska – the closest institution to the Big Ten of Los Angeles schools just 1,537 miles away. Via Google Maps, that’s about a 22-hour drive depending on, you know, traffic, or a five-hour flight.
  • The furthest school from UCLA’s Pac-12 is Washington, 1,132 miles away. Under a three hour flight. That’s another 400 miles less than the nearest school in Big Ten, Nebraska.
  • The furthest school in the Big Ten from UCLA is Rutgers, about 2,800 miles and more than a five-hour flight. Getting to Penn State by plane would take over six hours.
  • The average distance from UCLA to any other Pac-12 school — not including USC — is about 735 miles. The average distance from UCLA to a school in the Big Ten is approximately 2,160 miles.

Sports like football, which have a week between games and simply play less often, will be easier to coordinate. But programs like USC baseball and UCLA softball — which played 53 and 61 games, respectively, in 2022 — may feel the brunt of travel.

From March 19 to May 8, the start of Pac-12 play last season, UCLA softball made four road trips against Washington, Stanford, Oregon State and Arizona State. . This represented 12 days of absence in less than two months. In the 2024-25 school year, two-hour commutes are turning into one-day or nearly full-day commutes, which will only increase the amount of time athletes spend outdoors.

Teams like USC volleyball, on the other hand, don’t have the advantage of staying in one place for multiple days for a series of games. Last season’s carousel included a trip to Colorado on November 5, then to Utah on November 7, then to Oregon on November 12 and Oregon State on November 14. Such a road trip could now include stops at Penn State, Rutgers and Maryland.

It’s time for future recruits to get comfortable with typing their midterm papers amid the roar of a jet engine.

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