Brett McMurphy, Dana O’Neil and Andy Katz of ESPN.com report Maryland and Rutgers are talking about a possible move to the Big Ten Conference.
Rumors of Maryland considering a Big Ten move surfaced on Friday via UM 24/7 site InsideMDSports.com. Possible motivation for the Big Ten is expanding its media footprint to the East Coast in preparation for renegotiation of its TV deal in 2017.
Rutgers would give the conference even numbers (14) should it expand, as well as representation in the nation’s largest media market, New York.
For Rutgers, the Big Ten offers a higher profile for a football program that just began growing into a contender in the mid-2000s. For Maryland, the Big Ten’s forthcoming, renegotiated contract bolsters an athletic budget that has been woefully underfunded in recent years. The university cut seven sports this summer.
Other realignment rumors have persisted throughout 2012. The most notable was chatter of Florida State and Clemson abandoning the ACC for the Big 12, which began in May and stemmed from unsourced, unsubstantiated rumors posted to a West Virginia blog. The abruptness with which the Maryland-Rutgers rumors have arisen, coupled with the details outlined on the ESPN.com report, seem to give more credence to this discussion.
That said, no source is yet on the record.
Such rumors should force both the ACC and Big East into aggressive measures to keep their ranks in tact. Rutgers is in position to reach its first BCS bowl, and the Big East is already losing one key asset in the New York market with Syracuse’s departure for the ACC. Though Syracuse is based Upstate, the university has a high concentration of alumni in New York City.
The ACC has been a constant rumored source of conference plundering; losing a member to fall to uneven numbers might further stir the pot.