Over the past two days the Big Ten may have struck a domino that could set off a whole new chain of events in the collegiate athletic landscape.
The addition of the University of Maryland and Rutgers will give the conference two more schools that are members of the Association of American Universities. This will bring the Big Ten’s total to 13 of the 62 leading public and private research universities in the United States and Canada, the only non-member in the Big Ten is Nebraska.
You have to go back more than 100 years to find a time of similar expansion. Between Nebraska, Maryland and Rutgers the Big Ten will have three new members since 2011. The previous three members to join were Penn State in 1990, Michigan State in 1950 and Ohio State, which joined way back in 1912. You have to look back to 1899 to find the last time two new schools joined at one time (Indiana and Iowa).
When you look at a map the schools do not add a lot of land mass to Big Ten territory but the cities they add will help the conference. Maryland is close to both Baltimore and Washington D.C. and Rutgers is less than 40 miles driving from New York City. This has been the speculated reason why these two specific schools have been invited to join.
This was partially about expanding the Big Ten as a brand. In 2014, Big Ten football and basketball games will be seen more on television in those largely populated cities than ever before.
For the Big Ten that means a much bigger paycheck when in 2017 they strike a new TV deal. Both the SEC and the Pac-12 signed deals in the past two years that makes them in the billions of dollars.
Another affect of more exposure for more teams means they have the ability to recruit the new areas better than they have in the past. Also, Rutgers and Maryland may have better odds of getting players from states like Ohio and Michigan because they will be seen more often there.
There are probably some very excited alumni and fans of all the current Big Ten schools in those three big cities. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany has said the conference has more than 540,000 alumni between Virginia and Southern New England.
Before they would have go to a home game or the closest away game, in this case Penn State, to see their favorite teams compete. Now they can see them in Piscataway, New Jersey or College Park, Maryland, much closer to their new home.
Both schools bring different qualities and quirks to the rich history of the Big Ten Conference.
About: Grant Gannon
My name is Grant Gannon and I am currently a senior studying journalism at The Ohio State University. On campus, I am a sports writer and copy editor for the student newspaper, The Lantern. My future goal is to be a sports journalist covering a college football team with a website or daily newspaper. My mom went to OSU and I am the fourth of four children to attend OSU (Dad went to Miami (OH) but we do not hold that against him).