I was disappointed with the Big Ten’s addition of Maryland and Rutgers this week. I really hate this move because we now have way too much red in this conference. I now count Ohio State, Indiana, Wisconsin, Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers as Big Ten schools with red as their primary color – let’s just say that Under Armour, Nike, Adidas, K-Swiss, etc. will have their hands full distinguishing between the varying shades of crimson, red, maroon and burgundy.
These new two schools also have very mediocre football histories (Maryland at least has redemption in basketball) and mediocre academic standings. I do recognize that both are part of the AAU and are good research universities, but according to the U.S. News and World Report (a flawed college ranking but a ranking nonetheless) Rutgers and Maryland sit at #116 and #160, respectively. None of the other B1G schools, except Nebraska (another recent B1G addition) are above #100. But aside from the academic and athletic reasoning, I feel like there’s a sentimental reason that makes this move just feel plain wrong. The Big 10 is an historic conference, and Midwesterners take pride in the history and “Midwestern” values that its schools convey. The Big 10 used to have an identity, and Big 10 fans took pride in knowing that our brand of grind-it-out football and cold weather games was unique to any other legitimate conference in the country.
Now with the addition of Maryland and Rutgers, that Midwestern geographic identity is gone, and our standards for Big 10 admission have been compromised. But, so is the way of college football – if your conference doesn’t change with the times, you’ll become irrelevant in a hurry. The larger conferences have been snapping up teams left and right over the past few years in order to stay relevant and avoid extinction. Conferences like the Big East are on the verge of collapse, and college football seems to be going the way of 4 mega-conferences, made up of 16 teams each. That means that the Big 10 will have to add 2 more teams in the near future, and you’d think they would have to move quickly before their potential adds get snapped up by another conference.
You figure that these 4 huge conferences will be the Big Ten, SEC, Pac 12 and the Big 12. This means that the Big East and the ACC are going to disappear, and their teams are up for grabs. The best selection from either of those conferences would have to be Notre Dame, (Though they are still football independent) but screw ND. Let’s take a closer look at some other potential options, factoring in a program’s relative strength in football, basketball and academics. Although the only factor that matters at the end of the day is football ($), I would like to see relative strength in those three areas for any potential addition to the Big Ten.
- Ranked #17 in US News & World Report
- NCAA football W-L record: 564-574
- Deepest March Madness run: Elite 8
- Ranked #30 US News & World Report
- NCAA football W-L record: 646-499
- In Basketball: 5 National Championships
- Ranked #97 US News & World Report
- Football W-L: 473-235, 2 national championships
- Deepest March Madness run: Lost in title game 1972
- Ranked #44 US News & World Report
- Football W-L: 574-326, with 5 national championships
- Deepest MM Run: Sweet 16
- Ranked #36 US News & World Report
- Football W-L Record: 687-461, with 4 national championships
- Deepest March Madness Run: Lost in title game in 2004
All decent options, but of those I would choose Miami and UNC – mainly because neither of those schools has red among their colors. We’ll wait and see what happens, but I’d think the Big 10 moves sooner rather than later to grab 2 new teams and expands to a B16.