Report: Maryland, Rutgers in talks to join the Big Ten

Could Maryland and Rutgers be the next members of the Big Ten? - Rob Carr

The Big Ten may soon be adding two more teams wearing shades of red to the league.

Phil Grosz of Blue & White Illustrated (and Yahoo! Sports radio) reported last night that the Big Ten and Maryland were in negotiations for the Terrapin to possibly join the Big Ten. Of course basically everyone essentially dismissed it as the case of one school's reporter hearing something that likely didn't have any teeth to it. My how things change in just under 24 hours.

According to an ESPN report from Dana O'Neill, Brett McMurphy, and Andy Katz (e.g. this isn't just smoke), not only are the Terps talking to the league, but so too is Rutgers:

The University of Maryland is in serious negotiations to join the Big Ten Conference, sources told ESPN.com on Saturday.

If Maryland goes to the Big Ten, Rutgers of the Big East is expected to follow suit. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers would give the Big Ten 14 members as the league gears toward negotiations on a new media rights deal when its first-tier rights expire in 2017.

No date has been set for an potential announcement, though it could come as soon as Monday.

Maryland president Wallace Loh has been handling the conversation with Big Ten officials, a source said.

Not long after Yahoo! Sports' Pat Forde came out with a similar report:

What Maryland and Rutgers lack in cash and football clout - neither has won a BCS bowl game and only Maryland has appeared in one - they potentially make up for in massive TV markets. Rutgers brings with it the New York market, and Maryland has Washington, D.C., and Baltimore. However, neither is considered a prime TV draw in markets saturated with pro sports.

Maryland and Rutgers both had been rumored candidates for the Big Ten in 2010, when the league added Nebraska, but that did not come to fruition. Instead of expanding to 14, the Big Ten held at 12.

"I would not be surprised, because [Maryland and Rutgers] was always the next step," said one prominent college athletic director. "And [it would explain] why Maryland voted against the $50 million withdrawal fee."

Of course as is widely known, Maryland has a good number of financial issues affecting their athletic department. The Terps' financial problems were so great just a few years back that they were actually causing the school to suffer a net loss on their athletic programs. Then, as mentioned in both reports, there's the issue of the ACC's new $50 million dollar exit fee that came about as a product of Notre Dame forming an allegiance with the league. Maryland was one of two schools, along with Florida State, to vote against the buy out fees, perhaps not only signifying the two schools' interests in preserving the possibility to explore other options, but also to potentially set a litigious showdown should Maryland decide to attempt to make the Big Ten move a reality.

So what do these schools add? In the interim, Rutgers is having a nice (though not outstanding) year as a football program. 9-1 on the year, their one loss interestingly enough is to former Ohio State wide receivers coach Darrell Hazell's Kent State Golden Flashes. Maryland was a consistent bowl team in the 2000s, but has been miserable under former Connecticut coach Randy Edsall. Maryland's basketball team is just a little over a decade removed from a national championship in basketball, but is a shell of their former selves at this point. Rutgers, is well, Rutgers. It'd essentially be like adding another Nebraska in hoops, except one that isn't as accomplished at baseball nor football. Yeah.

The moves above all else would add the vaunted Washington D.C. and New York City media markets. That would allow Big Ten alums living in both of those areas the ability to pour money into those institutions when their alma matters visited and potentially help deliver the Big Ten the expanded revenue-wise new media deals they've been looking to secure. While these institutions don't add much in the way of athletic prowess, if media executives are gullible enough to buy into the shiny-ness of the two larger markets, the moves might actually make some sense. Besides, it might actually give the league the opportunity to redo the football divisions in a way that actually makes some sense.

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