University of Maryland brass and Big Ten Conference commissioner Jim Delany are scheduled to address media at a 3 p.m. ET press conference today. The university is expected to confirm a rumored move to the Big Ten, leaving the ACC after 59 years of membership.
Maryland broke off from the Southern Conference in 1953 to become one of the ACC founding institutions.
Conference bylaws require Maryland to pay a $50 million exit fee. The university’s athletic department has struggled financially, earlier this year dropping seven sports. The timing of this costly move is peculiar, and how Maryland will fund the move is one of the topics that should be addressed this afternoon.
Expected to join Maryland and even the Big Ten’s membership numbers is current Big East member Rutgers. The two universities would give the Big Ten representation in the New York and Washington DC markets — surely key motivation for the Big Ten extending them invitations. The conference will soon renegotiate its television contract, which expires in 2017, and the added population to its coverage map is sure to generate more dollars.
But how would the programs fit in on the gridiron?
Neither has won a conference championship in football since Maryland’s ACC title in 2001. Rutgers is pursuing its first Big East championship this season, with a date against preseason favorite Louisville likely determining the conference’s BCS bid.
Rutgers is a burgeoning program, just seven years ago snapping a 27-year bowl game drought. Its appearance in the 2005 Insight Bowl was the program’s second postseason in history. Maryland was an ACC power in the early 1980s, faltered badly in the 1990s, and briefly reemerged in the early 2000s. Since, the Terrapins have been inconsistent from season to season. A rash of injuries snuffed out this year’s team’s promising start.
A return to the Big Ten would rekindle an old rivalry for Maryland. The Terrapins played Penn State regularly until the series was discontinued in 1993 when PSU moved to the Big Ten. The Nittany Lions dominated the series 35-1-1, ending it with a 70-7 smashing of the Terrapins in ’93.
However, there is completely unsubstantiated discussion of a move to the ACC benefiting Penn State.
The two universities merely switching places would be interesting, though seems unlikely. That leaves the Big Ten needing one more for an even 14 — a role Rutgers fulfills — and the ACC needing a replacement for 14 in football. The other shoe has hardly dropped in this saga.