Saturday, December 1, 2012

Poll Results: How will Maryland and Rutgers affect the Big Ten?

Last week I asked the question of how the addition of Maryland and Rutgers would affect the Big Ten overall.

Negatively: 58%
Positively: 28%
Not at all: 18%

I don't think most Big Ten fans are happy about Maryland and Rutgers entering the equation, but I do imagine that it will be good for those two schools themselves.  I can see why they jumped on the idea.  New Jersey produces a ton of football talent, and now those kids can stay right at home and play while their families watch from the stands.  Playing in the Big East didn't have the same ring to it, which is why so many of those kids would go far away to play ball.  Michigan, for exampled, pulled in several kids from New Jersey over the past few years - Anthony Lalota, Marcus Witherspoon, J.B. Fitzgerald, Brandon Smith, etc. And while things didn't work out that well in Ann Arbor for, well, any of them, both Lalota and Witherspoon went back home to play for the Scarlet Knights when they couldn't hack it at Michigan.  Smith didn't quite make it back to New Jersey - he just transferred to Temple.  Fitzgerald was a career backup at Michigan.  If given the chance, I wonder which of those four would still have chosen Michigan if their home-state Rutgers team played in the Big Ten already.

Maryland also has fairly fertile recruiting grounds in the forms of Baltimore and Washington, D.C.  Kids from those areas go all over the place to play, but mostly the Big East and the ACC up until now.  Maryland, though, got a couple national recruits (Stefon Diggs, Wes Brown) to stay home in the 2012 recruiting class, and perhaps they might stay home a little more often in the future.  There's less incentive for kids from the eastern seaboard to go to places like Michigan, Ohio State, and Penn State.  So while this move might benefit the programs at Maryland and Rutgers, it might thin out the talent in the rest of the conference.  I still don't think a bunch of elite kids will be committing to the Terrapins, because they simply don't have the history and track record to be extremely enticing.  But those second-level kids, the low 4-star and high 3-star type of kids might prefer a chance to start at Maryland rather than ride the bench and play special teams in Columbus or Ann Arbor.

Of course, this is a very narrow look at the effect of conference expansion on recruiting, but overall, I do not see this as a positive trend for the Big Ten or college football in general.  At some point the NCAA has to put a limit on conference size . . . or perhaps the Big Ten, SEC, Big 12, and Pac-12 will become the new Division I, while the other members of the current FBS will become a de facto Division I-AA.


  1. I have read some of the university insider posts on other michigan sites and it sounds like the two primary factors for choosing schools to add are B1G leverage with regional cable TV deals and academic/research connections. The cable TV thing is understandable, but I am surprised that the academic connection bit is so important. Obviously, football rivalries and traditions are taking a back seat in all of this. I am wondering if this is not short-sited because the distribution power of cable companies is dwindling, so the market-access factor may not be important long term.

  2. 4 conferences of 16 = the new Div I. Natural 8 team playoff -- conference championships yield 4 teams to a 2-game playoff. Money, money, and more money.

    The number "64" sounds so good to people ... but the unspoken truth is there aren't 64 solid football schools out there. The four "super-conferences" will be dominated by a handful of teams. The lesser teams will be cannon fodder for the great teams, but they won't care because they'll get TV revenue sharing to pay for their athletic department operating shortfalls.

  3. Not to mention Good Counsel, and Eastern Christian, amongst other programs in Maryland. 2 of the best. I think it'll be great for the current B1G teams, and great for the new ones. We'll have 2 in conference schools to beat up on, have more sway on top national recruits, and better negotiating for tv contracts. We don't add Football prestige, but there are only so many Penn States, and Nebraskas out there.

  4. Eh, I think this will be a net positive for the entire conference. Guys from Jersey or Maryland who committed to Michigan will still commit, since obviously staying home was not a big deal for them. In fact, the potential for a game or two at home makes it sweeter.

    Now kids who went to Big East or ACC schools will commit more to the B1G, and everyone knows the conference could use some talent infusion.