With Maryland and Rutgers more than likely on the move, here’s some baseless conference expansion speculation and reading of the tea leaves:
Why is the Big Ten doing this?
Expanding east kills two birds with one stone for Jim Delany and his crew.
First, the Big Ten just needs to add bodies to its home turf. The Rust Belt is bleeding jobs and population. Adding New Jersey and the Baltimore/Washington corridor to the conference footprint helps there.
Furthermore, as Dennis Dodd wrote on his blog yesterday, the conference stands to gain significantly from getting better distribution of the Big Ten Network.
Will Maryland actually go through with this?
I don’t see why not. The only issue I could envision with the move - and it’s a big one - is fan/alumni support. A loud enough outcry from the fans, particularly boosters, voicing their displeasure with going to the Big Ten could maybe put the kibosh on it.
It sounds as though Maryland’s administration is already pretty far down the road in negotiations, and joining the B1G makes sense from a financial standpoint. I suspect this deal is done.
Will Rutgers actually go through with this?
Is the Big Ten done expanding?
Doubtful. As the SEC is finding out, a 14-team league blows from a logistics standpoint. Not to mention, it will be hard to have its two new eastern members hanging out so far from the rest of the conference. Look for the B1G to continue growing eastward.
What does this mean for the ACC’s future?
Tobacco Road and the like once again find themselves in a precarious position. If Maryland outmaneuvers the dubious $50 million exit fee set by the league earlier this year, it could open the door to more defections.
At some point, the SEC will likely decide to add two more teams, and this latest domino could set that off. Likewise, if the Big Ten is set on moving east, it stands to reason that it will come calling on more ACC teams.
Think something like: Maryland, Rutgers, Georgia Tech and North Carolina to the B1G; Virginia Tech and North Carolina State to the SEC.
What about the more immediate future of the ACC?
John Swofford could decide that his conference is content to sit at 13 full members. That seems like a logistical nightmare for football, which probably means adding either Louisville or Connecticut.
If it’s the latter, that will surely piss off Florida State, yet again.
What does this change for Notre Dame?
For now, nothing. Maryland isn’t a significant loss in terms of the conference’s appeal to the Golden Domers.
The bigger issue could be where the Fighting Irish may see the league heading in the longer term.
Is the Big East finished?
Probably not, but its relevance wanes by the minute. Lose Rutgers and UConn/Louisville? Yikes.
How about the Big 12?
Ask DeLoss Dodds.
In all seriousness, though, escalation on the part of the Big Ten and SEC could force the 10-team conference to expand or risk slowly withering away. If the two heavyweights decide to draw and quarter the ACC, the Big 12 stands to pick up some sweet consolation prizes. Yet again, Florida State and Clemson could be looking for new homes. There’s always Louisville, too.
That is, of course, if Texas wants to expand. So, yeah, maybe do ask DeLoss Dodds.
It may be faceless speculation, but I don't believe it's baseless. It's just a business decision based upon economic models and unfortunately those models say that the ACC is a collection of undervalued schools. As a collection the ACC hasn't really tried to be a compelling football commodity. It is a wonderful academic association. It has schools that share common cultural bonds, although expansion has damaged that. But in an economic climate that is somewhat dire and at a time when federal and state revenue is at a premium while charitable giving is drying up in the middle-class range, athletic television contracts offer income levels that remain stable for a 12 - 15 year period in between contracts. When your schools net 17 million a year while those around you net 25 with an immediate potential of shooting to 32 or 33 million by taking one of your institutions it doesn't take a mental giant to figure out who gets targeted. The ACC schools sit on the television gold mine of the densely populated and more affluent Eastern coast. But, their lack of dedication to excellence in what is becoming America's favorite non-professional sport means that their schools in another conferences are worth almost twice as much as they are worth in the ACC.
That's pretty much it. It's not compicated. It's not personal. It's just business. The manipulations of the networks to access and develop this market is just business. It is the corporate takeover of an undervalued product with prospects of a great return. It is not an attack by the Big 10, or SEC, or Big 12 (the survival of which is yet to be determined). I really think the analysis of the writer falls into the probable range. Maybe a team or two difference here or there, but pretty darn close to what we might see emerge.
I'm just not so sure that in the longer term (say a decade) that we don't wind up with three conferences of twenty or so teams each. The PAC may one day absorb much of the present Big 12, or even an expanded Big 12. The SEC and Big 10 might then pick up a few more markets a piece and then things will settle in for a longer period.