It's looking more and more official -- the Big Ten's Manifest Destiny strategy has finally reached the East Coast. Maryland's Board of Regents voted this morning to accept an invitation to become the B1G's 13th member, and Rutgers is believed to be close behind.
It's probably the least popular major conference expansion ever -- both for fans of the conference and the team being added -- but there's a certain amount of logic to it. By now, everyone knows it's only about TV sets and Benjamins, and the Big Ten is taking a gamble that the addition of Maryland and Rutgers can get it onto more cable packages in New York, Washington, and Baltimore (the jackpot would be basic cable packages in those cities). Dan Wetzel has a good explanation of that side of things.
What does Maryland bring to the table athletically? Not much in football -- I'd say it slots in somewhere around the Iowa/Purdue/Minnesota range. It's an elite basketball school, though, and immediately joins Michigan State, Indiana, Ohio State, and Wisconsin in the top tier of basketball programs in the conference. Several of its non-revenue sports are strong, too, particularly soccer, lacrosse, and wrestling.
The Testudo Times, SB Nation's Maryland blog, has a good case for jumping to the B1G from the Maryland fan's perspective -- it's worth a read. My two cents: I was initially pretty upset at the prospect of two terrible football schools who are nowhere near the rest of the B1G joining the conference, but the more I think about it, the less I care. We crossed the conference-realignment Rubicon two years ago. All things that you've always thought mattered in what made up a conference no longer matter. It's just TV markets and dolla bills now, and your conference either recognizes that or dies. So whatever. Bring on the road trips to half-filled stadiums in College Park and Piscataway for 11 a.m. games on the Big Ten Network. I, for one, welcome our new college football overlords.
There are two big questions now: 1) What happens to our divisions (and the names?!?!?)? and 2) Does Jim Delany kick it up a notch and go to 16 teams? North Carolina? Duke? Georgia Tech? Syracuse? Alabama!!!!
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