A Terps move to Big Ten would stink, plain and simple

November 17, 2012 | Drew Forrester

Is Maryland really going to jump from the ACC to the Big Ten?

Apparently, yes.

While it’s still not a done deal, a college athletics source told me early this morning “They’re just going over the fine print now…”, which would lead you to believe it’s on the verge of being announced.

At stake, of course, is money.  That’s the only reason Maryland would be doing this sort of thing.  It can’t be about any other reason.  It’s most certainly not being done to help increase the interest in the Terps basketball program, which would take a major hit if they leave the ACC for the Big Ten.  Maryland vs. Northwestern every year sure gets me excited, how about you?   It’s fair to note that Big Ten football is far superior to ACC football, but what good does that do Randy Edsall and Company when they’re already a bottom-feeder in the ACC?  Does the Big Ten really need another sacrificial lamb for Ohio State and Michigan and Penn State?

Some folks will point to Saturday’s woeful attendance of 32,000 in College Park to see Florida State hammer Maryland and use that as a measuring stick for how much of a draw even a good program like the Seminoles are…but the reality is the attendance in College Park is dwindling because the team isn’t any good.  They can move to the Big Ten tomorrow, but if the Terps are 2-7 in football this time next year, they’ll draw 32,000 for the home game against Michigan State, too.

This is about money.  Nothing more, nothing less.  Maryland would get a chip or two from the Big Ten TV pie, for starters, and you would think a handful of football home games a year against the powers of the Big Ten would draw more paying customers than, say, annual visits from Georgia Tech, Wake Forest and North Carolina.

Maryland athletics, needless to say, is much more than just football and basketball from a competitive standpoint.  But from the money viewpoint, those two sports are propping up all the others.  While the soccer and lacrosse programs have both become national powers over the last few years, they’re still not paying for themselves.  Golf, tennis, field hockey and all of the other non-revenue sports in College Park don’t generate enough cash to pay for the gas they use in the luxury coach to get them to Charlottesville, Virginia for an event.  At Maryland, it’s basketball and football, with soccer and women’s basketball generating some money and men’s lacrosse chipping in as well.  And that’s it.

So, on the basis of needing to make some financial sense out of sports at College Park, this move to the Big Ten is probably going to lend a helping hand to a department that has been scuffling for several years now.

And even though the Big Ten move might cure Maryland’s athletic economic woes, the switch won’t do anything cosmetically for Kevin Anderson and Company.  They’re simply taking the money.  Nothing more.  The move doesn’t add any immediate interest to Maryland sports.  The only reason Maryland hops to the Big Ten is because of the money they’ll make for doing so.

In general, the move stinks.  No more Duke basketball games.  No more Roy Williams.  Rivalry games with Virginia are gone.

Maryland is an Atlantic/Eastern seaboard school with a long history of trips to Tobacco Road and memorable encounters with the Blue Devils and Tar Heels and Wolfpack and Deamon Deacons.

Maryland is not supposed to play Iowa or Michigan State or Minnesota.

But it looks like they’re going to be doing just that if this story comes to fruition, which many are now saying it will sometime in the next few weeks.

I don’t like it all, but I’m not surprised by it, either.

College sports is all about money.

If you have a lot of it, you’re the one doing most of the winning.

If you don’t have a lot of it, you’re trying to figure out how to get more of it so you can start winning again.

Maryland’s chasing the money.

That’s better than losing, I guess.




10 Comments For This Post

  1. Vince Fiduccia Says:

    One hundred percent correct Drew. It is all about the money, especially the Big 10s cable TV channel. This will allow the conference to redo deals with local cable companies now that they have a school in the lucrative Baltimore/Washington market. They will probably add Rutgers or UCONN to add the New York market.

  2. Tony Says:

    Of course it’s about money. If you stood to double your salary despite having a cushy job, you’d take the money too. The AD is hemorrhaging money due to the previous AD cooking the books and like you said, if you want to win, you need to have money to have what is increasingly becoming standard facilities and access…for future and current coaches and players/recruits.

    I think almost everybody would prefer to stay in the ACC for sentimental reasons, but looking at the absolute windfall they’d get in cash, it’s perfectly understandable and considering the financial aspect (academically included as they’d be getting a ton of money for grants as the Big 10 gets a lot of federal money for being a research institution), it makes sense.

  3. Adam Says:

    Just to correct some false ideas, joining the B1G does little for MD academically. The CIC in the B1G does not combine or help funding for grants. Each school is an individual but they help support a central database to share data. The ACC, with the addition of Pitt, ND, and Cuse have further cemented themselves as a premier academic conference with several, like-minded research institutions.

    Athletically, the move would downgrade the non-revenue generating sports via a lack of competition in sports like lacrosse, the fastest growing sport in the country. The football program will still be a small fish in a big pond and the basketball team will still be a top 25 caliber program with the ability to play up in some years.

    Financially, after paying off a loan from the B1G to exit the ACC, this has the potential to be more lucrative for the AD which would slow help steady the sinking ship that is currently Maryland’s athletic department.

    IMO, this move seems shortsighted. Maryland’s always been an East coast school and has worked with likeminded institutions. This culture change would take time to adjust to. The potential financial gains now may level out when the ACC starts their planned network in 5 years. I hope the folks in the upper administration keep this in mind before they set the school off on a new course.

  4. Tony Says:

    I don’t know details of the CIC so I won’t comment on that and take your word for it.

    Athletically…I get the lacrosse stuff, but it is not and will never be a revenue generator. And you don’t need to be in a power conference to be a lacrosse power…it hasn’t stopped Johns Hopkins. It’s a very big upgrade to football and a moderate downgrade in basketball (we won’t even be playing Duke and UNC on an annual basis anymore with all the expansion). What other notable sports are there? And if anything, with the additional revenue maybe we can get a couple of the sports we were forced to cut last year due to…a lack of money.

    I don’t think this is shortsighted at all…there are and will continue to be rumors of FSU and Clemson potentially leaving for the Big 12 (don’t think for a second that that issue is over with) and in addition to a huge difference in money (the ACC will never be able to approach the Big 10 in TV money, even with a network as they are the only big conference that is completely locked into an ESPN/ABC exclusive package…unless the ACC is willing to let that deal expire as ESPN will have ALL the leverage), you can’t overlook the stability of the conference.

  5. Steve from Sandpoint Says:

    True in Life and in Sports, it’s always ABOUT THE MONEY !!!

  6. The Armchair QB Says:

    Money talks; all that “other stuff”…..walks! Nothing new…….

  7. justafan Says:

    If Maryland is serious about joining the Big Ten, they had better step up their recruiting practices big time if they hope to compete in football. They have enough trouble competing in the ACC so how will they be able to compete in the Big Ten under their present recruiting guidelines? Also, Byrd Stadium is woefully inadequate for Big Ten Football, unless they are willing to play the role of Big Ten doormats. Under those circumstances, crowds of 35,000 may seem acceptable, but they still won’t fill all of those luxury seats that have become Byrd Stadium’s “white elephant”.

  8. BudIce05 Says:

    Doesnt matter what conference they’re in, the University of Maryland at Washington DC will be bottom feeders for football. One of the pluses on their joining the Big Ten would be reknewing their annual beatdown by Penn State.

  9. Penn Stater Says:

    It might be all about money, but quite frankly that’s something Maryland needs to keep their athletic department afloat. Chase money or become irrelevant. the ACC could fall apart at any moment, if Miami, Florida State or Clemson decided to leave.

    The B1G should grab Virginia and Maryland and leave it at that. Maryland should jump at the opportunity to join the most secure conference.

  10. unitastoberry Says:

    If you all think Maryland footfall sucks now you aint seen nothing yet. They better start paying recruits and fast. The last time they won a National Championsip Harry Truman was President and nothing is going to change there.

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