We almost got through a football season without realignment talk, and the reports were stunning.
Maryland is in serious discussion to join the Big Ten. And Rutgers would not be far behind as the 14th team.
Nobody from the Big Ten was talking, but when Commissioner Jim Delany spoke about league membership earlier this year, his line was, “We are very pleased with both our current conference membership and our conference structure.”
Perhaps much as changed since September.
The only way this makes sense is the need for the Big Ten Network to add value by landing schools in major media markets of Washington-Baltimore and New York, but would either school deliver the market?
There would be other complications, starting with a $50 million exit fee for Maryland to leave the ACC, and Rutgers could be on the hook for as much as $20 million if it departed the Big East early.
If this comes off, the impact on the college sports landscape might have conference commissioners thinking realignment offense at a time when they’ve been preoccupied with shaping postseason future.
I can’t see a Maryland and Rutgers move forcing the Big 12’s hand. The conference is happy with its 10-team alignment, competitively and financially with some $20 million coming to each school annually from new first- and second-tier TV deals.
If it prompts Florida State or Clemson or others to become proactive, the Big 12 would listen. But a 14-team Big Ten wouldn’t impact the Big 12.