While others are out there acting stupid on Black Friday, I am acting stupid from the comfort of my own home! But that's another matter, and not the topic of this post.
I must be the only person in mid-Atlantic (other than the members of the University of Maryland Board of Regents) who like Maryland's move to the Big Ten Conference. While no longer having the traditional basketball rivalries against Duke and North Carolina is sad, the long-term gains outweigh the minuses.
First off is the hulking helping of cash Maryland's going to get by membership in the Big Ten rather than the ACC. Due in large part to the Big Ten TV Network. Why there isn't such a thing in the ACC is beyond me, and long-term, not having such a TV deal may wind up being the ACC's undoing. And of course, with the network doesn't just come cash, but also exposure to potential recruits.
Which brings me to the second issue: football. Five years ago I wouldn't say this, but I do believe that five years from now I'll still be able to say, that the big boys of the Big Ten (Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State) would wipe the field with the ACC's best teams, except for Florida State. Although it doesn't show it on the field, Maryland has made a huge financial commitment to football in recent years, with the addition of the Tyser Tower luxury suites (some of which remain unsold) and the fact that at an annual salary of $1.6M, Maryland head football coach currently ranks 46th among the 124 Division 1-A head football coaches (so sayeth USA Today). While meanwhile, in this week's college football rankings in said publication, Maryland ranks 106th among 246 Division 1-A and 1-AA teams. In fact, about a dozen 1-AA teams rank ahead of Maryland. Investment is not meeting performance and while Maryland will likely take some lumps the first couple years, membership in the Big Ten could allow for better recruits and coaches to come to Maryland.
The third reason: opportunity. On both sides of the relationship. Maryland's membership in the Big Ten could help build lacrosse in the conference. With the increased cash flow Maryland may be able to reinstate some of the sports it recently dropped. And building athletic rivalries with schools like Penn State and Ohio State could easily replace those with Duke, North Carolina and Virginia over the long term.
I certainly agree with those who complain about the sudden nature of the move and the lack of a public process. Those are extremely troubling. But things may not be as dire for Maryland athletics as one may think. Simply uncomfortable.