May 13, 2010

How Many Teams are in the Big Ten?

It’s a trick question. For now, there are eleven teams in the Big Ten Conference. But maybe not for long. If conference commissioner Jim Delany has his way, the Big Ten could be expanding to as many as sixteen teams. And the University of Maryland could be among those getting an invitation to join the club.

Last December, the Big Ten promised commissioners of potentially affected conferences they would be notified before officials engaged “in formal expansion discussions with other institutions.” Since then, attention has focused on Missouri, Syracuse, Rutgers, Pittsburgh, Notre Dame, Nebraska, or Texas. But Maryland would be a logical candidate if the conference is looking to limit membership to institutions belonging to the Association of American Universities (AAU)—a prestigious academic organization thought to enhance the overall profile of Big Ten members.

Maryland is a big player in Baltimore and Washington DC television markets, and its proximity to current Big Ten member Penn State as well as potential new members Rutgers, Pittsburgh, and Syracuse makes it an interesting option, according to reporter Kevin McGuire. The fact that Penn State’s Joe Paterno thinks that the Big Ten should grow to fourteen members, adding two in the east and one in the west, might add substance to rumors about Maryland’s interest in jumping ship from the Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC).

Originally planned to take 12 to 18 months, Big Ten expansion plans appear to be on a faster track with discussions taking place at the semi-annual AAU meeting a couple of weeks ago. Rumors continued to circulate at recent Bowl Championship Series (BCS) meetings, but nothing definitive has been forthcoming.

It’s an anxious time for colleges wondering how the larger conference structure will be affected, and undergrads concerned about the impact on long-standing rivalries. And prospective students—aspiring athletes and fans—will have to be patient as the various conferences sort things out in the aftermath of a Big Ten expansion.

The Big Ten expansion will most likely bring the total to twelve or fourteen, but either way, it’s never going to be ten again. Maybe these guys need help adding.

No comments:

Post a Comment