With Maryland and Rutgers more than likely on the move, here’s some baseless conference expansion speculation and reading of the tea leaves:
Why is the Big Ten doing this?
Expanding east kills two birds with one stone for Jim Delany and his crew.
First, the Big Ten just needs to add bodies to its home turf. The Rust Belt is bleeding jobs and population. Adding New Jersey and the Baltimore/Washington corridor to the conference footprint helps there.
Furthermore, as Dennis Dodd wrote on his blog yesterday, the conference stands to gain significantly from getting better distribution of the Big Ten Network.
Will Maryland actually go through with this?
I don’t see why not. The only issue I could envision with the move – and it’s a big one – is fan/alumni support. A loud enough outcry from the fans, particularly boosters, voicing their displeasure with going to the Big Ten could maybe put the kibosh on it.
It sounds as though Maryland’s administration is already pretty far down the road in negotiations, and joining the B1G makes sense from a financial standpoint. I suspect this deal is done.
Will Rutgers actually go through with this?
Is the Big Ten done expanding?
Doubtful. As the SEC is finding out, a 14-team league blows from a logistics standpoint. Not to mention, it will be hard to have its two new eastern members hanging out so far from the rest of the conference. Look for the B1G to continue growing eastward.
What does this mean for the ACC’s future?
Tobacco Road and the like once again find themselves in a precarious position. If Maryland outmaneuvers the dubious $50 million exit fee set by the league earlier this year, it could open the door to more defections.
At some point, the SEC will likely decide to add two more teams, and this latest domino could set that off. Likewise, if the Big Ten is set on moving east, it stands to reason that it will come calling on more ACC teams.
Think something like: Maryland, Rutgers, Georgia Tech and North Carolina to the B1G; Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to the SEC.
What about the more immediate future of the ACC?
John Swofford could decide that his conference is content to sit at 13 full members. That seems like a logistical nightmare for football, which probably means adding either Louisville or Connecticut.
If it’s the latter, that will surely piss off Florida State, yet again.
What does this change for Notre Dame?
For now, nothing. Maryland isn’t a significant loss in terms of the conference’s appeal to the Golden Domers.
The bigger issue could be where the Fighting Irish may see the league heading in the longer term.
Is the Big East finished?
Probably not, but its relevance wanes by the minute. Lose Rutgers and UConn/Louisville? Yikes.
How about the Big 12?
Ask DeLoss Dodds.
In all seriousness, though, escalation on the part of the Big Ten and SEC could force the 10-team conference to expand or risk slowly withering away. If the two heavyweights decide to draw and quarter the ACC, the Big 12 stands to pick up some sweet consolation prizes. Yet again, Florida State and Clemson could be looking for new homes. There’s always Louisville, too.
That is, of course, if Texas wants to expand. So, yeah, maybe do ask DeLoss Dodds.