Big Ten Seeing Green with Expansion

At least Dr. Wallace Loh, the President of the University of Maryland, was honest when explaining why his university was jumping from the Atlantic Coast Conference to the Big Ten.

“We’re still living paycheck to paycheck [in the ACC],” Loh said during a press conference that announced the Terrapins’ move to the Big Ten.

Loh is right. This is all about money for both parties. Maryland, which will begin Big Ten play in 2014-15, and Rutgers, whose entry in the Big Ten will be reportedly finalized in the coming days, offer very little in the Big Ten’s cash crop (football).

Make no mistake about it. Rutgers and Maryland will be interchangeable with the likes of Indiana, Minnesota, Purdue and the other bottom-feeders that have seemingly made the Big Ten into a bottom-heavy conference.

But what they bring to the table is eyeballs. Since the Big Ten Network launched in 2007, it has become a financial windfall for the 11 original members. Now, the conference gets to add two enormous television markets and make even more revenue.

According to a Big Ten athletic department employee, the Big Ten charges $0.12 per customer a month for those living in a state without a Big Ten team. For those living in the middle of the Big Ten footprint, the Big Ten Network receives $0.36.

While the details of the television agreements have yet to be announced, it’s only logical for the Big Ten to mandate New York City and the DMV area be included as part of the Big Ten footprint.

Does this make any of the parties better?

Sure, the Big Ten Network is able to charge more per customer in two critical media markets, but now that money is getting split up among 14 teams instead of 12 (and just two years ago, 11). The addition of Rutgers and Maryland would seem to open up the possibility of Big Ten championship games to escape god forsaken Indianapolis. Perhaps the conference could alternate the basketball championship between Madison Square Garden, Barclays Center and the Verizon Center.

Considering the conference’s fascination with Indianapolis — both the basketball and football championships are held there — I’ll hold my breath on that happening.

The only gain for the Big Ten is money. Is there any for the two teams coming?

Rutgers is a top-25 football team this year, but it plays in the Big East, so it doesn’t really count. Maryland is an unmitigated disaster. In Randy Edsall’s two years as the coach at Maryland, the program is gutted. Of course they’ve had bad luck this year — all of the Terps’ scholarship quarterbacks are for the season and the team starts a former linebacker who wears No. 31 —but Under Armour has to be running low on patience for its flagship university.

Both Rutgers and Maryland will get increased exposure for playing in the second-most recognizable conference in the country (behind the SEC of course) but it’s not going to matter. New Jersey and Maryland were already fertile grounds for one Big Ten team — Penn State — now add 11 more competitors for in-state talent.

There was legitimate excitement among people with vested interest in the Big Ten when Nebraska joined. Yes, I know the financial implications of adding Maryland and Rutgers but Big Ten expansion rumors used to be about adding Notre Dame or bringing in Pitt to revive a dormant rivalry.

Today, the only reaction is mild disappointment.

Brendan Shorts

The Cover 4 Featured Sports Writer

http://www.facebook.com/bshorts?fref=ts

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Comments

  1. P1ttpanthers says:

    Good articleand i like the analysis. i agree with what is said. But how do either of those teams really benefit besides being a punching bag for the big ten. I don’t see how they will ever compete to win in any sport. Maryland has sucked in ACC and Rutgers has been a sort of a top team in BIg east but not dominate. I don’t understand how they will be any more than mediocre. Who is the real winner now from the BE scarlet knights or pitt/us?

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