Oh boy. Here we go again.
In the past week or so, speculation has been bubbling just below the surface that another round of conference expansion could be in the offing, with the talk centered mainly around Maryland. While most had dismissed the speculation, the rumors have gotten a sudden shot of credibility and credence.
According to ESPN.com‘s Brett McMurphy and others, Maryland is currently engaged in serious negotiations with the Big Ten about a move from the ACC. The negotiations are so serious, in fact, that an announcement could come as early as this coming Monday.
Additionally, the website is reporting that, if Maryland, a charter member of the ACC, does indeed jump to the Big Ten, Rutgers would follow suit by leaving the Big East for the Midwestern conference.
The move would be surprising on several fronts, most notably when it comes to the financial aspect of such a move for the Terps. Due to monetary concerns, Maryland recently dropped seven sports. Not only that, but the ACC adopted a $50 million exit fee earlier this year; the only schools to vote against the measure were Florida State and Maryland.
How Maryland could justify slashing a handful of sports then, months later, paying a mid-eight-figure exit fee is unknown.
If Maryland and Rutgers were to both join the Big Ten, it would put the conference on equal footing quantity-wise with the SEC. Quality-wise, however, the Big Ten would still lag far behind as the Terps and Scarlet Knights would bring marginal football programs into the mix, although the latter is ranked this season and potentially headed to a BcS bowl.
The reported developments would also portend more doom and gloom for the Big East, which is in the midst of negotiations on its next television contract. Not only would the conference lose Rutgers if the reports come to fruition, but they could lose either UConn or Louisville to the ACC to fill the hole left by Maryland.
So, buckle up folks. It appears were in for yet another round of conference expansion. Yippie?!?