Big Ten Expansion?
What Does It Mean?
What Should The Divisions Look Like?
E-mail Pete Fiutak
Jim Delany, time to correct the mistake. What if OSU was
eligible to play for the Big Ten title this year? How awful would
it be if OSU-Michigan this week was the first of two
games, with the two meeting a week later for the Big Ten
title? The importance of the legendary rivalry would be
It should be all about geography, while creating as many
natural rivalries as possible.
If Maryland and Rutgers really are in, put them in the
Leaders, and then do some shuffling.
Move Michigan to the Leaders to match up with Ohio
State, but keep MSU in the Legends and make the
Spartans-Wolverines a yearly interdivisional game. Move Wisconsin over
to Legends to keep the burgeoning rivalry with the
Spartans going. Move Illinois to the Legends for a
geographic rivalry against Northwestern and Iowa.
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Realignment … it’s not just for the offseason any longer.
Reports broke early Sunday that the Big Ten is eyeing two new members, Rutgers of the Big East and Maryland of the ACC. Kudos to Jim Delany and his staff for keeping a lid on this story, because absolutely no one has leaked a word about it until apparently both parties were already at the altar and deep in negotiations.
For the Big Ten, this makes sense for obvious reasons—viewers. The league wants into Baltimore,
Washington D.C. and New York City, and the TV
markets they bring. There’s hidden gold in landing the Terrapins and the Scarlet Knights for reasons that transcend whatever takes place on the field, court or diamond.
Rutgers also makes sense from an academic
standpoint. Always among the top football programs
every time the Academic Progress Report comes out,
the Scarlet Knight players pull their weight.
The Big Ten has been dancing around these two
programs since the expansion and realignment talk
started. With most of the top players in the
discussion finding a seat - Missouri appeared to be
destined for the Big Ten, but that obviously didn't
happen - and with the Texas rumors never finding any
legs, this is a nice move. Remember, the SEC might
be the best football conference, but in terms of fan bases, alumni,
money, academic prestige - for the most part - and TV, the Big Ten rules the roost.
The poachers are going to be thrilled. The poached? Not so much.
While the Atlantic Coast Conference doesn’t want to lose Maryland, the league will survive just fine without it. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are already packing up and heading south, and the ACC could get back to 14 members practically overnight by looking in any number of different directions.
The Terps’ motivation for breaking ties with rivals from the past half-century? What else? Money. Maryland athletics is hardly flush in cash, of which it would receive plenty more as a member of the Big Ten. Deeper pockets equal a better chance to compete on a national level, in more than just football.
Maryland is expected to decide on its future soon;
possibly as early as Monday. If the Terrapins pull
up stakes, so, too, will Rutgers. For the Scarlet
Knights, it would be an unmitigated boon for the
Of course, every divorce has a loser. And in this one, the Big East would once again be taken to the cleaners. Does it survive? Sure. But at what point does the league simply raise the white and call itself the Literal Conference USA?
New commissioner Mike Aresco will go out and pluck a willing program, like East Carolina, from an even less relevant conference, and direct the PR team in Rhode Island to tell us why this is such a positive step forward in the league’s evolution.
The reality, though, is that the Big East isn't being given much credit or respect
with the new playoff format coming up, and it will never, ever again matter in football the way it did when Boston College, Miami, Virginia Tech and West Virginia were rolling. Losing Rutgers stings, but keeping
the school around wasn’t going to change much in Big East country.
The league is welcoming in Navy is in 2015, and the plan is to bring in Boise State, Houston, Memphis, San Diego State, SMU and UCF for next season,
but that's not going to move the national needle. The league still has Connecticut, and while Louisville and Cincinnati appear to be on the Big 12 radar, there's no movement yet.
Life will go on, it just won't be as good.
While the Atlantic Coast Conference doesn’t want to lose Maryland, the league will survive just fine without it. Pittsburgh and Syracuse are already packing up and heading
over, and the ACC could get back to 14 members practically overnight by looking in any number of different directions.
Maryland needs cash. Rutgers needs a home that better fits its long-term goals and quest to shed the inferiority complex of residing in the shadow of a major pro sports town. Those can be powerful lures for a couple of schools not accustomed to being courted for their athletic programs.
The Big Ten would represent a dramatic upgrade by every imaginable measure. Plus, the New York metropolitan area is busting at the seams with Big Ten alums; Penn State-Rutgers would have the potential to become the football rivalry that the East has been lacking forever.
No, it's not the seismic changing of the landscape
like Missouri and Texas A&M going to the SEC, or
West Virginia and TCU moving to the Big 12 or
Nebraska bolting for the Big Ten, but the shuffling
And the money will come pouring in.