In the second season after Nebraska turned the Big Ten into a 12-team league, it had appeared that the conference would be one of the few bastions of stability among the shifting winds of college sports realignment. Now, however, it appears the question of Big Ten expansion has been reopened.
ESPN reports that the Big Ten is in serious talks with both Maryland (a founding member of the ACC) and Rutgers (ditto for the Big East as far as football is concerned) about joining the league. The putative 14-team conference would then have its first foothold on the Atlantic coast to go with its traditional Midwestern power base.
Assessed purely as a financial decision (admittedly the primary driving force of the entire realignment maelstrom), the addition of both schools makes some sense. Maryland offers access to Washington, D.C. as a television market, while Rutgers does the same for New York City, and a bigger conference will inevitably have more bargaining power for TV contracts in any case.