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Would USC consider leaving Pac-12, going independent?

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USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes.

USC Trojans quarterback Kedon Slovis (9) passes during the game against the Utah Utes at Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City on Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020.

Spenser Heaps, Deseret News

The USC Trojans have long been a nationally renowned program, especially in football, but would they consider leaving the Pac-12 Conference and going independent any time soon?

That question was posited to Los Angeles Times columnist/TV personality Bill Plaschke on a recent episode of the “Tunnel Vision” podcast hosted by USC beat reporters at 247 Sports.

Plaschke’s response? “Yes, yes, yes. I’ve said that a million times. They’re bigger than the Pac-12. We talked about the Pac-12 needing them, and I should have said that earlier.

“Yes, they should go independent. They don’t need the Pac-12. They are way beyond the Pac-12. I’m sorry, they don’t need to be in Oregon State’s TV rights world. They don’t need to be in Washington State’s orbit. They should be independent just like Notre Dame and cut their own deal. It would be huge. It would be bigger than Notre Dame’s and it would be the biggest thing in college sports.”

Plaschke wondered if USC athletic director Mike Bohn is considering it, then added, “They’re bigger than the conference. They’ve outgrown the conference.”

In a post on the 247 website, writer Ryan Abraham noted that he and his colleagues asked Bohn about going independent during a podcast episode before the pandemic, and Bohn said, “Everything’s on the table.”

However, Abraham observed that in a recent story by Pac-12 insider Jon Wilner of the San Jose Mercury News, Bohn expressed optimism about working with new conference commissioner George Kliavkoff.

“I’m excited to partner with George and help execute a vision for the future of the conference,” Bohn said in that story. “I don’t think anyone is in position to make declarative statements about the future. But I know what the Pac-12 can be when USC is at its best. We can take advantage of this opportunity to reset. George brings a brilliant skill set to the table.”

USC going independent, of course, would be of interest to the two biggest athletic departments in Utah, the University of Utah and BYU, as Utah is in the Pac-12 and BYU is independent in football.

USC is scheduled to face both Utah and BYU on the gridiron this fall. The Trojans are slated to play Utah on Oct. 9 and BYU on Nov. 27, with both games in Los Angeles.