Well, the Big 10 Conference (B1G for you noobs) has added Maryland and Rutgers. Welcome, Turtles and New Jersey-ites…
Does anyone like this move? Is anyone excited? We can’t really find them. Maryland fans don’t want to leave their regional ACC rivalries, but they understand why it’s a good move financially. They’re broke after all and had to cut seven sports last year. This is basically what ESPN talking head and Maryland alum Scott Van Pelt said on the radio: “don’t like it; understand it.” Are you looking forward to that sub-500 Illini-Turtles football clash? I know I am (we might be able to actually, you know, beat them).
Rutgers opinions are pretty similar. They understand the financials and certainly understand the tenuous situation of the Big East. On the other hand, they’re worried about winning games in football and basketball, and who can blame them. Rutgers has been a lot better in football the last several years, but the Big East has also been substantially weakened. It will be an uphill battle to bowl eligibility for them. In basketball, well, good luck there.
Current B1G fans have taken to this news with many “mehs” and a few instances of self-righteous indignation. Buckeyes fans will look at Maryland and Rutgers as two more easy Ws on the football schedule. Nebraska fans look forward to converging on New Jersey and the side trip to NYC. Northwestern fans will warm up their Jersey jokes. Robert at A Lion Eye breaks it down as only he can.
It’s the football division re-alignment and hoops scheduling, where you can start to get angry. If the leaked realignment comes to pass… Well, the Legends division in which Illinois finds itself is much, much tougher than the adjusted Leaders. Talk about an easy road for OSU and Wisconsin. Talk about a difficult job for Illinois or Minnesota… The other problem is OG B1G schools in the new Leaders would only see traditional rivals ever few years. Purdue is less than 100 miles from Champaign and we’ll only see them a couple of times a decade. Not cool.
Basketball scheduling also becomes more and more unbalanced. Illini fans won’t like it when we only get Indiana once and play Rutgers twice. A lot of us will be wistful for the old days, when it was home and away for every school, and there was a sense of equity and achievement in winning the conference title.
B1G Commisioner Jim Delany is like the Godfather here, what with his unrefusable offers. Only Notre Dame dares defy him, and you know, they have Jesus on their side. But the Golden Domers better watch their six here and think about the future. The impending super-conference alignment and playoff system will not go easy on an independent – even one with their own TV contract. And does ND really want to head to the ACC?
Even more concerning to the purists is the sense that this is just another step, that the B1G isn’t done here. Two more teams and we’re looking at 16. And where do you go from here? Who get’s poached next? Delany was quoted saying something like, “this isn’t just a Midwest conference anymore”. Maybe he’s missing the point. Maybe it should be.
As an Illini fan and Illinois resident, I can’t help but wonder about all the purported money coming in. Is there any way we can divert some of these revenues back to the school itself. Because the state hasn’t paid the UofI in some time. Maybe we could apply some of that TV revenue towards our state debt…