Just when it looked as if there would be peace, that the conferences were done realigning, the Big Ten struck another blow that will send shock waves across the country.
Financially strapped Maryland grabbed the Big Ten’s lifeline on Monday, agreeing to become the conference’s new southern base along the East Coast.
On Tuesday, Rutgers will gleefully jump aboard, too, and complete the Big Ten’s new Mid-Atlantic bookends.
Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany said the move was about demographics and claiming new territory, to keep the conference vibrant and competitive for decades to come.
Simply put: The Midwest is not growing fast enough to sustain the Big Ten long term, so it needs to go where the people are.
It was a move not for 2014, when the Terps and Scarlet Knights will settle into the Leaders Division with Ohio State and Wisconsin, but with an eye toward 2030.
“I think the best of both worlds is to have traditions, but also to be able to pivot toward creative innovations when the opportunity presents or is required,” he said.
Delany noted how when the Southeastern Conference and Big 12 expanded, they planted their flags on new turf.
The Big 12 took West Virginia. The SEC added Texas A&M and Missouri, a school not far from what has always been considered Big Ten territory.
It should be noted that Maryland is about half as far from Atlanta as it is from Lincoln, Neb..
“We’re very proud of the fact that the Big Ten has been Midwest-centric,” Michigan athletic director David Brandon said. “But with population growth and shifts that have taken place over time, we know we need to grow into those areas where’s there’s more people, fans, alums and recruits.”
So what’s next for college football’s most powerful and prominent conferences.
When the ACC added Notre Dame, without its football program, and increased its exit fee to $50 million, the conventional wisdom was that the league had been locked down.