The rumors started on Saturday ruing the middle of the Illinois game and now, barely more than 48 hours later the deal appears to be done. The Maryland Terrapins are shining up their shells and are headed to the Big Ten with a press conference this afternoon to announce their entry into the Big Ten. Rutgers is expected to follow suit tomorrow, giving the league 14 members in 11 states (thus making the name make little sense yet again) and likely shifting around the divisions again.
All this occurs about two years after Nebraska in a move that was almost unanimously accepted as wise. Now the vast majority of Big Ten fans are against the move:
New Champaign Room: Look how much Jim Delany cares about what you think http://sbn.to/TbOyOF
Really hope Maryland keeps the vaunted out of conference football rivalry with Duke intact, you guys.
The thing that makes the most sense about Maryland to the Big Ten is that turtles are really, really slow.
So this is happening. Let's look at some of the key point in the timeline:
- Saturday Afternoon roughly 4:30 ET - The rumor breaks that Rutgers and Maryland may be headed to the Big Ten breaks. I tell the BMS crew at the Illinois game to a group of puzzled looks. We all agree it makes no sense.
- Yesterday - The official Maryland twitter account makes it sound like a done deal.
- This morning about three hours ago - The Maryland Board of Regents voted unanimous to move to the Big Ten. Their President says it is in order to save the athletics department as a whole:
"I did it to guarantee the long-term future of Maryland athletics," university President Wallace Loh told The Diamondback of the decision to move. "No future president will have to worry about cutting teams or that Maryland athletics will be at risk."
- The Big Ten and its Presidents agree to the move shortly after. A press conference is announced for 4 p.m. today to seal the deal for Maryland.
- Rutgers steps back a bit and agrees to wait until tomorrow for their announcement, as today is apparently Maryland's day. The Scarlet Knights plan to have their formal announcement tomorrow.
So that is it. In two days the conference added two new members and once again set the carousel of conference expansion whirling full tilt. From Maryland's statement they are looking to become the official lampreys of the conference, suckling at the teat of Barbasol and Rotel to keep some floundering programs afloat. They'll also bring in the east coast Washington DC market into the Big Ten footprint. Rutgers brings in the New York City market, so fully expect a Big Ten title game to be shifted to Way Too Damned Expensive Giants/Jets Stadium in the near future. Neither program has done much in football (Maryland has one BCS bowl appearance while Rutgers may get their first this year). Rutgers brings in less than Nebraska in basketball while Maryland at least has a good program there.
As for how it affects Purdue, in the long run the expanded media market likely brings a cash windfall if things go well on the east coast, but since we're adding far from strong programs the effect there is truly unknown. The conference now has 14 mouths to feed. Maryland competes in 20 sports and Rutgers has 27, so Purdue will still sponsor the fewest sports in the conference at 19. Neither school will compete in the conference until 2014-15.
In basketball Purdue and Maryland have never met, while in football they met only once: the 2006 Champs Sports Bowl won by Maryland 24-7. Purdue is 3-1 all-time in basketball against Rutgers, last playing the Scarlet Knights in West Lafayette in 1982. The only meeting in New Jersey came back in 1954. Purdue and Rutgers have never played in football.
I would say that this likely shakes up the divisional structure starting in 2014-15. A simple East/West split would look like this:
East: Maryland, Rutgers, Ohio State, Penn State, Michigan, Michigan State, Indiana
West: Nebraska, Iowa, Illinois, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Purdue, Northwestern
That put the east-west dividing line right in the middle of Indiana with Bloomington slightly east of West Lafayette. It also preserves most of the natural rivalries in season by putting those teams in the same division except for Purdue and Indiana. If an eight game schedule is kept and the concept of a protected rivalry is also kept it only leaves room for one team to rotate on and off the schedule every two years. In order to make it two teams the Indiana-Purdue rivalry could be scuttled for years at a time. I don't see the conference protecting rivalries there because there are not overly strong ones across divisions outside of Purdue and Indiana. That means the Bucket Game could very well be on the chopping block.
So that is all I really know. I only see this as an absolutely shameless cash grab for the conference that is already printing money with its own TV network. At least the addition of Nebraska made sense. This really doesn't. We're shaking everything up to add a horrible basketball program and decent football program plus one with an awful football program and a basketball program that had a good run 10 years ago. At least in women's basketball Purdue won't be the only program with a championship since Maryland won it all in 2006. Rutgers was also runner-up in 2007.
Maybe that was Delaney's strategy all along.
As for learning what the other side thinks, here are your SB Nation links:
Maryland - Testudo Times
Rutgers - On the Banks