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Maryland To Big Ten: Pros & Cons

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Nov 20, 2012


Now that it’s been made official that Maryland is packing its bags for the Big Ten, and Rutgers appears not far behind, what does it mean for the Big Ten? Here’s a look at some things to take away from the new world order the heartland will be living in beginning in 2014.


By Phil Harrison
Follow me on Twitter @PhilHarrisonCFN

The Maryland Terps are locked and loaded and ready to back the U-Haul up for their new residence in the Big Ten. If you believe the sources, Rutgers is also ready to receive a huge payday and also join the nation’s richest conference. But what does it all mean? Here’s a look at three touchdowns vs. three penalty flags of the new Big Ten landscape that will become reality in 2014.

Touchdowns:

Money.
is there anything else that stands out more about this sneaky little maneuver than the benjamins? Of course not. As college football has shown us over its not-too-distant past, money rules the world of big-time college athletics. Ditto here. By getting Rugers and Maryland in the league, Jim Delany and the Big Ten will have finally done what it sought out to do with the bombshell that it wanted to expand in the first place.

Sure Nebraska was a great get and came out of left field, but aside from getting a team with a great pedigree, it didn’t really up the ante on the money side. This move would give the Big Ten two huge media markets with the New York (first) and Washington, D.C./Baltimore areas (fourth when combined). The third rated market (Chicago) is already there, and there are many other top 35 television markets already in the Big Ten’s footprint with Minneapolis/St. Paul, Indianapolis, Cleveland/Akron, Detroit, and Columbus to name a few.

And for folks that want to point out that the East Coast is not that big into college football, it’s still a huge deal for the television rights because it will still turn on a lot of television sets even if a fraction of the market tunes in. You can bet it’ll bode well for the next television deal that’s going up for bid in 2017. Yes, the rich are getting richer.

Academics:
Mucho deniro is far and above the first priority here. Anyone that tells you otherwise is simply trying to skate backwards off of a short cliff. These are in fact institutions of higher learning however, so there are some academics involved (yes shocking we know). Both Maryland and Rutgers are both institutions that devote a lot of money and have a great track record as research institutions.

It just so happens that the Big Ten members also believe in research and breaking out the protractors from time to time. Maryland is a world class college, ranking in the top 25 in many fields of study. Not to be outdone, Rutgers also has a very good academic reputation in more than the three Rs. So yes, these two universities add to the portfolio of highly respected universities already tossing the pigskin around in the Midwest.

Travel:
This isn’t your Boise State to the Big East deal. The travel to the East coast from many of the Big Ten campuses is an easy pill to swallow. From the furthest east schools (Ohio State and Penn State) it’s an easy flight of about an hour. For the furthest west (Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa), it’s just a two hour flight.

That means fans get a chance to go to new locations without taking on the added headache of inconvenient travel. That is if getting to these major hubs with the mass of humanity doesn’t unnerve you first. Still, it’s an easy thing to take in the sights in New York, Philadelphia, DC, and Baltimore, see some history, and still add the cherry on top of watching good ‘ole State U play a football game.

Penalty Flags:

Uh, football folks:
It’s not like the Big Ten is rolling out the red carpet for two beastly programs. We all know the state of affairs at Maryland, and Rutgers will have to up its game in the Big Ten to be as competitive as it has in the even more watered down Big East. Simply put--the SEC is not shaking in its Wranglers because of the upgrade in talent from its biggest competitor here.

From a strictly football talent standpoint, it’d be like Pepsi going out and adding Faygo to complement its brand. There is the silver lining that a fairly basketball rich Maryland can add some intrigue to an already tough basketball Big Ten, but hopefully these two schools can upgrade facilities and hire great coaching staffs to pull in better recruits with the added money each will get.

Scheduling:
Just when the Big Ten dipped its toe into a two-division, league-championship format, there will be another change on the horizon. Folks are already up in arms with the understanding that teams like Ohio State and Nebraska won’t meet for four years because of the necessity that comes with rotating teams throughout a twelve-team divisional format. Now that the divisions will go to seven teams apiece, there’s going to be even more holes in the conference slate.

Look for the Big Ten to add one more conference game to the schedule as well which means less of the big intersectional matchups that teams like Ohio State and Michigan like to have. If you want proof to what this does to scheduling, look no further than the wacky things the SEC is now dealing with where too many of its top teams are playing each other, and cupcakes rule the day in the non-conference part of the schedule.

Culture:
With the addition of Nebraska, the Big Ten got a midwestern school with the same thoughts and ideas of other midwestern schools. This will be downplayed, but don’t for one minute think that this meshing of East Coast versus Midwest is a slam-dunk into the melting pot of culture. If you have traveled around this country, you know there are good and bad things about both regions, and people are just inherently different. It’s definitely noticeable and it’ll be interesting to see how the leaders and students of each take to each other.

Who’s feelings will get hurt? Will progress yield to conservatism on and off-the-field or vice-versa? How are the legacy schools going to feel about the new kids on the block, and can the new money defer to the old guard that’s already established? There are of course no answers to all of these questions just yet, but it’ll be interesting to see how the new dynamics of this demographic juxtapose play out.

That’s it for now. This list of course could go longer, but those are just some of the main story-lines that many will be talking about. In the end, it’s not too surprising that the conference that started all of this expansion talk finally jumped into the deep end and made true on its intentions. Now we must all keep an eye on the ripple effect this will have for the Big East, ACC, and other leagues.

Superconferences may still have legs.