Maybe it’s because I’m an East Coast guy now living in the Mid-West, but I embraced the announcement that the University of Maryland was moving to the Big Ten Conference. I’m not caught up in outrage of the breaking up of conferences. If it makes sense financially or otherwise for the school to change, they should change. I believe that not only does the move to the Big Ten make sense for Maryland financially (once the lawsuits are settled, which we all know they will be) but I think it also makes sense just from a sports culture standpoint.
Truthfully, the ACC never really appreciated the Terrapins. Despite success and an avid fan base, the Terps were repeatedly overlooked for the schools along Tobacco Road. The Big Ten offers Maryland a chance to step into the limelight that it has been pushed out of for so long.
Won’t it be the same with the existing Big Ten rivalries like Michigan versus Ohio State, you ask? Perhaps at first, but the Big Ten isn’t built the same as the ACC. While the Michigan/Ohio State rivalry is the headliner the rest of the league isn’t over looked or pushed aside. The same cannot be said about the ACC’s preferential treatment of North Carolina schools and the elevation of the Duke versus North Carolina rivalry as the end all be all of the league.
By joining the Big Ten (and the B1G TV network), the Terrapins will gain exposure across two thirds of the United States, including basketball recruiting hotbeds New York City and Chicago. They will offer East Coast recruits a chance to remain closer to home while competing against the prestigious basketball teams of Indiana and Michigan and the historic football powerhouses of Ohio State and Nebraska. They’ll also offer the Mid-West recruits a chance to participate in the league they grew up watching while expanding their horizons with an education on the East Coast. This move gives the University of Maryland a new and unique recruiting edge that they could not have had remaining in the ACC.
When you stop and think about it, putting aside geography, doesn’t it seem like the University of Maryland has more in common with Michigan State or Wisconsin than it does with Duke or Wake Forest? When you talk about the Spartans or the Badgers, you’re talking about raucous and rowdy fan support permeating throughout an entire Athletic Department, not just a single sport. Doesn’t that sound like the Terrapins? It’s certainly what I remember from growing up and in the environment of like-minded schools within the Big Ten, I would expect it to be so again.
I don’t expect that the Terrapins are suddenly going to be the nation’s top program in all sports next year. That’s not realistic. But a top contender in football and basketball within 3 to 4 years (or one recruiting class) isn’t much of a stretch. I think the culture and the history of the Terrapins sports program is going to allow them to flourish within the Big Ten, because they will finally be amongst their peers.
It also can’t be overlooked that the Big Ten wants Maryland. The Big Ten wanted a way in to the Baltimore to DC media market and the Terrapins are their way in. So, it would stand to reason that the Big Ten won’t be pushing Maryland aside or trying to ignore their existence like the ACC. The Big Ten is going to let Maryland take the spotlight. If they earn it. I think they will.