The Big Ten restarted college sports realignment this past week with the addition of Maryland Rutgers, giving the Big Ten 14 members.
It’s something college sports fans should get used to hearing about because it’s not going to change anytime soon.
Throughout the history of college sports, leagues have been reshaped and added and subtracted members. It seems to go in waves, with another wave about to pick up big up momentum.
The Big Ten going to 14 members means the ACC and Big East each lost a member. The ACC in turn will take a member from the Big East, and the Big East will have to look further down the ranks for a couple members to keep up its membership.
Once the ACC adds another team (a near certainty), which would bring it back to 14 members, the 14-member conferences would include the ACC, Big Ten and SEC. That could prompt the Big 12 and Pac 12 to try and keep pace and add more members, adding to the realignment.
Even a school such as Dayton could end up being affected. If the Big East’s non-football schools decide the league is being diluted by all the changes — only Temple remains in the Big East from the 2003 football season (ignoring the part in which Temple was kicked out of the league for several years for below-average performance). The Big East’s basketball schools could break away and look to add new programs such as Dayton and Xavier to form a new league.
The Big Ten has started a shift that could change the entire landscape of college athletics.
The Big Ten started the last wave of realignment when it announced it was exploring expansion, ultimately adding Nebraska. It’s likely started another wave. And don’t be surprised if the Big Ten again looks to add even more members — Georgia Tech, Syracuse, Virginia, North Carolina, Duke, Missouri, Kansas and Texas all could be viewed as potential options.
Some people don’t seem to understand why the Big Ten would want what many people consider mediocre football teams in Maryland and Rutgers. The answer lies in money.
Maryland is located near Washington, D.C., and Baltimore, and Rutgers is near New York City. While it’s debatable how much the Big Ten can gain footing in those areas, which aren’t as excited about college football as the Midwest, the potential of expanding the Big Ten Network into those markets is a huge potential windfall. The conference gets more than $1 for each Big Ten Network subscriber, and millions of new viewers are within reach.
Money is the object pushing realignment and expansion of conferences. And someday it might break them up.
I wouldn’t be surprised to one day see schools such as Ohio State, Michigan, Florida, Texas and USC decide they can make more money by cutting lose schools such as Northwestern, Vanderbilt and Iowa State and leaving their conferences behind to go independent or form a league of the very best teams.
Money is the driving factor behind all of this, just like it usually is. Get ready to hear a lot more about it in the near future.
Kyle Shaner is the sports editor for The Daily Advocate. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.