The University of Maryland’s Board of Trustees voted to accept an invitation to become the Big Ten’s 13th member on Monday. Rutgers is then expected to announce their move to the Big Ten on Tuesday, which will round out the conference with 14 schools. From the moment the rumors of a potential move from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten began about a week ago, Maryland fans were starting to form their opinions about leaving their beloved ACC.
On paper, the move to the Big Ten makes perfect sense for Maryland. Their athletic program has been bleeding cash in recent years, and the Big Ten offers far more revenue for the school then the ACC does. The Big Ten also has the added luxury of the Big Ten Network to further increase revenue, and that their other TV deals expire in 2017, giving them a chance to negotiate a new deal far sooner than any other conference can.
For Maryland fans though, many initial feelings were negative. This however was mainly due for nostalgic reasons: Maryland had been a founding member of the ACC, Maryland has a great basketball rivalry with North Carolina and Duke, and Maryland already struggles in football in the ACC, they surely will not be able to compete in the Big Ten.
If you listen to the nostalgic Maryland fan you would think this is a terrible move for the Terps. Unfortunately, the nostalgic fan is really just hanging on to something that no longer exists.
The move to the Big Ten now sees Maryland joining a football powerhouse. While the football team is struggling to compete in the ACC, now at least fans will not be delusional in thinking Maryland actually has a chance in the Big Ten. But even that won’t stop Ohio State, Wisconsin, Penn State, and Michigan fans from filling Byrd Stadium, something the Terps have struggled to do.
In terms of the other revenue sport, men’s basketball, the Terps will be able to compete just as competitively as they had been in the ACC. They may not be the best team in the conference, but they sure will compete with them.
Many fans are now upset that the basketball rivalry with Duke is gone. However what these fans fail to realize is that even in the ACC that rivalry had been taken away. In previous years Maryland played a home and home with the Blue Devils every season. After the ACC accepted Pittsburgh and Syracuse, Maryland’s home and home was going to be against Pitt, not Duke. The schools would play four times every three years, hardly an intense rivalry anymore.
The truth of the matter is this rivalry with Duke may not even be a casualty in the end. The college basketball schedule is wide open, especially before conference play begins in January. If Maryland and Duke still wanted to play each other, and there are plenty of reasons for both schools to do this, the two schools will be able to find a way to play each other every season.
One of the bigger concerns regarding non-revenue sports focused on the Terps Men’s Soccer team. The team is currently #1 in the country, playing in one of, if not the toughest conference in Men’s Soccer. While a move to the Big Ten would be a downgrade, there are still good teams that have given Maryland trouble residing in the Big Ten. Furthermore, Maryland typically plays games against the top teams in the country, including early season showdowns with teams like Stamford and UCLA. With a smaller conference schedule, Maryland could still schedule other tough opponents, including former ACC rivals to make up for any lack of competition that may come.
Maryland soccer also features one of the best coaches in the country in Sasho Cirovski and the school continually sends players to the MLS. There are plenty of former Terps playing professionally not just in the United States, but in Europe as well. As long as Cirovski remains in College Park the Terps will not have any issues recruiting.
While moving away from the ACC will be a downgrade in competition for many of the school’s non-revenue sports, it will still provide a benefit to all those teams. The basketball team will not be affected; they will just be playing different teams. In the end, the move that is being spearheaded by the football team, will bring in a massive increase in revenue that provide stability for the school as well as the entire athletic program, a trade-off that far outweighs everything the school had to give up.