If the title of this article is a question you’ve been asking yourself for the last few years (like many of us), head over to Sports Illustrated and read Stewart Mandel’s fantastic story about why the Big Ten drastically expanded its footprint.
One of many takeaways from it:
The Big Ten’s slippage in football is largely due to the dearth of high-level talent in its population-depleted backyard. In the 2015 recruiting class, just 32 of Rivals’ 325 four or five-star prospects hail from one of the nine current Big Ten states. Maryland; Washington, D.C.; Virginia and New Jersey, however, add another 32 on their own.
It’s no secret the nation’s most fertile recruiting grounds are the South, Texas and California. The Big Ten still doesn’t have a presence in those states, but inching toward the Mason-Dixon line and possibly being able to pull recruits from Virginia helps.
Too, New Jersey produced a number of top-rated players in the recruiting class of 2014 (10 four- or five-star recruits) with four of the top five players from the state going to Big Ten schools.
There’s a ton of good stuff from Mandel — who’s moving to Fox Sports, by the way — so give it a read while waiting for Mark Emmert’s testimony this morning.