Will UCLA and USC Help Join the Big Ten Recruiting?

After eating In-N-Out burgers, strolling along Santa Monica Beach and enjoying a visit to Little Ethiopia, Keanu Benton gets charm.

“Who doesn’t want to go to Cali?” a nose grabber from Wisconsin said with a laugh on Wednesday.

In the coming years University of California at Los Angeles as well as USC will gain some natural advantage in chasing high school applicants from the Big Ten territory. Beaches. Weather. Kitchen (animal style).

These gains will be reinforced by the fact that the Bruins and Trojans will play several games each season in the Midwest and once on the East Coast. they will join the Big Ten in 2024. Players raised on the farmlands of Illinois can go to college in Southern California, playing within hours of their home once or twice a season, allowing their families to see them play in person.

“They will try to infiltrate and poach players from our neighborhood, our backwoods in the woods,” Barry Alvarez, a former longtime Wisconsin coach who is now a special football advisor for the Big Ten, said of UCLA and USC. during the Big Ten days at Lucas Oil Stadium.

The reverse also applies. Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald, which includes eight California natives, not to mention a transfer. player Luke Akerswho spent two seasons at UCLA after growing up in Tennessee sees an opportunity to dream more about California.

“Of course it will help,” Fitzgerald said, noting the availability of low-cost flights between Chicago and Los Angeles that would allow Southern California families to see their sons play away games at conferences without having to take out a second mortgage on their homes.

While his next recruiting class is largely decided, Illinois coach Bret Bilemah said he foresees his recruiting will be more active in California, where star quarterbacks, wide receivers and running backs are sprouting like citrus fruits starting with the class of 2024.

UCLA’s move into the Big Ten will turn longtime friends into rivals. Ohio State coach Ryan Day said he was on the 16th hole of a golf course in New Hampshire with a colleague of the Bruins. Chip Kelly when Nebraska coach Scott Frost, a mutual friend, called to break the news that UCLA and USC were joining the Big Ten.

“About halfway through that hole, we found out we were in the same conference together,” Day said, “and had a good laugh about it.”

The chuckles may stop once coaches compete for the same outstanding wide receivers from Southern California and the best linemen from the corn-feeding Midwestern states.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during the Big Ten conference press days.

Northwestern coach Pat Fitzgerald speaks to reporters during Big Ten conference press days at Lucas Oil Stadium on Tuesday in Indianapolis.

(Darron Cummings/Associated Press)

Fitzgerald likely knows the California landscape as well as any of his Big Ten rivals, as he was responsible for areas spanning the San Fernando Valley to San Luis Obispo, Fresno and down through Bakersfield and Palmdale when he was linebacker coach and special commands. in Idaho.

“I understand the Valley quite well – a song by Tom Petty. [“Free Fallin’ ”] no matter what,” Fitzgerald snapped.

As with everything else, location will matter when recruits weigh their options.

“When you choose your second home,” said Pennsylvania State Guard J’Ayir Brown, a New Jersey native, “I personally didn’t want to be too far away from my first home, so that played an important role. [big role] in my hiring process, but everyone is different. Some people like to go far from home, others like to stay close to home, so I guess it depends on what kind of kids you have.”

Then consider Nittany Lion teammate PJ Mustipher to be the perfect couch potato.

“No West Coast teams,” said the quarterback, who hails from Owings Mills, Maryland. “I didn’t mean to go out on the West Coast – I’m an East Coast boy, man. It’s too far for me. I won’t leave my mother. I thought I wanted to be away from my mom and dad, and I’m only 2.5 years old. [hours] and it’s too far some days but no I don’t [doing it]. Who wants to go to the west coast if you’re from the east coast?”

Benton, who once thought he’d be a carpenter or electrician after high school because he didn’t receive scholarship offers until the end of his freshman year, could have given the best advice to any fan hoping to land potential clients: devotion.

“Wisconsin was the first to give me a try, and that’s where I really wanted to go,” Benton said, “so it wasn’t an issue.”