Dienhart: On those Maryland, Rutgers rumors

Yahoo! Sports reported Saturday that the Big Ten is in “advanced discussions” with Maryland and Rutgers about joining the Big Ten.

The Yahoo! report says that an announcement could come early next week. Maryland is in the ACC, while Rutgers is in the Big East. The move would push Big Ten membership to 14 schools.

Reports indicate it would cost Maryland $50 million to leave the ACC; Rutgers would have to pony up $10 million to depart from the Big East. The Big Ten added Nebraska prior to last season to push membership to 12 schools.

The move makes sense from a TV/financial standpoint, as it would push the Big Ten further into the heavily populated Eastern seaboard and its big TV markets—New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Baltimore, Washington, D.C. But from a competitive standpoint, neither Maryland nor Rutgers has been a football power.

But all of the recent conference shifting typically has had little to do with competition—but everything to do about money and TV markets.

BTN.com senior writer Tom Dienhart is a veteran sports journalist who covers Big Ten football and men’s basketball for BTN.com and BTN TV. Find him on Twitter and Facebook, read all of his work at btn.com/tomdienhart, and subscribe to his posts via RSS. Also, send questions to his weekly mailbag using the form below and read all of his previous answers in his reader mailbag section.

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Your Opinion?
Show Comments (25 Comments)
Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 11:35am EDT Said:

Neither team strengthens the Big Ten, in fact, both weaken the conference. The perception that Rutgers brings the New York TV market is simply false. Only 20% of the New York Market population are Rutgers fans (roughly 600,000 fans). The size of the TV market doesn’t matter, if the school within that market doesnt have a fan base with high avidity within that market. Neither of these teams brings history or excellence to a conference that supposedly prides itself on those things. If the Big Ten doesn’t want to become even more of a national laughing stock, then it needs to get over this high horse AAU membership criteria. There are plenty of quality, highly rated, academic institutions in the country that are not AAU members. There are also plenty of quality academic institutions that also have quality football programs. The only reason that the Big Ten is looking to expand is for TV dollars (which is dictated by NCAA Football quality and TV viewing eyes), but they are limiting the expansion list to include an AAU membership. If you are expanding for TV money, then add schools that will actually bring TV money… Add Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Clemson.

US News and World Report rankings for the proposed expansion candidates are as follows: University of Notre Dame: (#17), Virginia Tech: (#72), Georgia Tech: (#36) and Clemson: (#68). The addition of Georgia Tech would bring the Atlanta TV market (#2 TV market).

The national ranking of number of fans for each of these team are Notre Dame: #4(2,261,738 fans), Clemson: #10(1,761,162 fans), Georgia Tech: #11(1,664,088 fans), Virginia Tech: #13(1,325,282 fans). Rutgers and Maryland come in much lower on this list. Rutgers: #32 (937,874 fans), Maryland: #58 (474,059 fans).

The full article from the New York Times breaks down all NCAA football teams and large TV markets:


FF on 11/18/2012 @ 12:12pm EDT Said:

The last comment is WRONG. I live in NJ, the “New York” Market includes the 9 million residence of the State of New Jersey. Don’t get me wrong they love us in New York (they lit up the Empire State Building Scarlet Red during the Louisville game; which broke ESPN viewer records). I am tired about people saying that the New York Market doesn’t watch Rutgers, they do, because 9million of those eyeballs are in New Jersey. And let me tell you RUTGERS is all the Rage!! NJ doesn’t have a football team and has just lost an NBA basketball team. Rutgers is hot and will bring A LOT of viewers!

FF on 11/18/2012 @ 12:17pm EDT Said:

Last Comment. Rutgers has tradition and history! Its not only the 8th oldest institution of higher education, but the “birthplace of college football.” Yes it all started at Rutgers, when it played Princeton and won. This game was the start of college football as we know it, so stop with the “no tradition comments,” they are simply untrue! There is no more greater tradition then being the birthplace of college football!

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 1:05pm EDT Said:

FF – Rutgers does not bring the New York market. Don’t kid yourself. If Rutgers has such a large and avid fan base, they why is their staduim capacity only 52,454? You say that Rutgers brings the New York market, but the research article from the New York Times says that they don’t. I wonder which is a more credible source…And that “no football tradition” that I was talking about probably has something to do with the fact that Rutgers all time win-loss record is 616-604. That “no football tradition” that I was talking about probably has something to do with the fact that Rutgers has never won a national championship and that their athletic department only brings in $50,000,000 annually. It doesn’t matter if Rutgers is the “birth place of football”. Just like anything else, once something is invented/started/created, someone else improves upon it. From a football standpoint, it would make about as much sense for the Big Ten to add Princeton. Either way you are adding a bottom feeder that weakens the strength of schedule for the Big Ten teams that actually consistently have a legitimate shot in the National Championship picture.

Joe W on 11/18/2012 @ 1:34pm EDT Said:

Its not about viewers, its about number of cable subscribers. Expansion is much more about number of households receiving the signal than actually watching that signal or going to stadiums. The AAU membership is also a big plus here as both Rutgers and Maryland are members and the Presidents hold this as important. I choose to trust the B10 brain trust and Presidents when it comes to financial matters (and to this point they have made the B10 the most valuable conference despite ESPN’s best efforts), which is what this is about…the sports and fan piece is not driving the decision, the money is.

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 1:53pm EDT Said:

FF – Furthermore, it’s obvious where the talented football recruits are located…In The South. The Big Ten needs to extend its footprint to the areas where more highly rated recruits are located. If the Big Ten wants to gain TV viewing eyes, then they need to improve the quality of their product. If the Big Ten can close the gap in recruiting between themselves and the SEC, then they will win more games. If the Big Ten wins more games, then there will be more demand for their product. Add Notre Dame, Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech, and Clemson. If Notre Dame still won’t budge, even if the Big Ten were to take those 3 ACC members, then go ahead and add Maryland, or Missouri, or Kentucky in addition to Virginia Tech, Georgia Tech and Clemson.
And the notion that the school has to be in a state touching a current member is also a joke. If Nebraska, or Minnesota have to travel to Penn St, the distance they travel is the same, regardless of weather all the states between those two schools are connected by member institutions. It wouldn’t be any more of an issue for Nebraska or Minnesota to travel to Virginia Tech, Clemson, or Georgia Tech than it is for them to travel to Penn St. The landscape of college football is changing (as well as the landscape of the US in general). Travel capabilities are evolving. The Big Ten needs to think long and hard about evolving into something that will be relevant in the future, unless they want to end up in a position where they are left to talk about the good old days when they were on the top. Times are changing. You either adapt, or get left behind.

Xander on 11/18/2012 @ 1:55pm EDT Said:

“Big Ten will continue to trend downward…”

Wait… Your’re honestly telling me that RU currently and with the improved recruiting would not be able to compete in the Big 10? You’re dead wrong… NJ has unbelievable high school sports where the kids have always left to play in more prestigious leagues over the years. If RU were to get an invite the league/recruiting/money disadvantage would instantly disappear. I’m sorry… You can not honestly tell me THIS YEAR that RU would not be able to beat Iowa, Purdue, Minnesota, Illinois (already have in recent years), Indiana, Northwestern, Michigan State (already have in recent years), Penn State (have done so in the past) and be very competitive with Michigan, Nebraska, Wisconsin & Ohio State. RU would at the very least be #5 out of the 14 (if Maryland was invited too). You’re in denial if you don’t see that and the potential this move has for RU.

aroznowski on 11/18/2012 @ 2:07pm EDT Said:

I definitely hope that Maryland and Rutgers don’t end up joining the Big Ten. It is just not a good fit. Nebraska and the Big Ten was a good fit. The Big Ten got a Midwest school with a national brand, an even number of teams, and the minimum number of teams required in order to have divisions and a conference championship game in football. While many of Nebraska’s rivalries were negatively affected, the Cornhuskers were able to get away from a conference that was mainly influenced by one member, Texas. Maryland and Rutgers are not national brands. They are Mid-Atlantic schools and not Midwest schools. Maryland has a decent men’s basketball program, but it obviously is nowhere near is good as it was under current BTN analyst Gary Williams. (I wonder if he has something to do with this.) Maryland’s football program is rather poor and would be just another cellar dweller in the Big Ten. Rutgers has a decent football program that is competing for a conference championship. However, that is the championship of the Big East. Rutgers would be mediocre at best in the Big Ten. The Scarlet Knights have an awful men’s basketball program. Maryland and Rutgers have good women’s basketball programs, but women’s basketball is not a revenue-generating sport. Besides women’s basketball, the only other sport that might benefit from such a move is lacrosse, but that too is not a revenue-generating sport. The addition of Maryland and Rutgers would bring little to no value to the conference. Nothing like divisions and a conference championship game in football would be added by expanding from 12 to 14 members. If anything, it just means that the pie would have to be shared more ways. Let’s all hope and pray that Phyllis Wise, Michael McRobbie, Sally Mason, Mary Sue Coleman, Lou Anna K. Simon, Eric Kaler, Harvey Perlman, Morton Schapiro, Gordon Gee, Rodney Erickson, France Cordova, and David Ward vote against offering conference membership to Maryland and Rutgers.

Eric on 11/18/2012 @ 2:09pm EDT Said:

do people who so strongly oppose this move actually believe they are more equipped to make such a decision than those who are actually making the decisions here? the conference brass obviously have done the research and know A LOT more than some internet message board poster.

aroznowski on 11/18/2012 @ 2:14pm EDT Said:

The Big Ten Conference is still getting used to having Nebraska as a member. There is no need for the Big Ten to expand any further, especially within the next couple of decades. Besides, there are very few schools that would even be good fits for the Big Ten. Notre Dame and former Big Ten member and current CIC and Division III member Chicago are the only two teams that would be good fits. Since neither of those two schools will be joining the Big Ten anytime soon, the Big Ten is perfect the way that it is. Sticking to the status quo is undoubtedly the best option.

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 2:25pm EDT Said:

Xander – Yes, I’m honestly telling you that Rutgers and the “improved recruiting” would not be able to compete in the Big Ten. At least not consistently with the top half of the conference. I don’t think you understand how much money Rutgers would have to invevst in their stadium alone to catch up with the top half of the conference. Your talking about stadiums with hundreds of millions of dollars invested into them. That’s just the Stadium. Now consider practice facilities, training facilities, Nutrition staff and program, strength and conditioning equipment/programs/staff…..
Your comment :”You’re in denial if you don’t see that and the potential this move has for RU.”
Well, obviously, this would be a good move for Rutgers. That’s not the issue. The issue is that it is a bad move for the Big Ten. Rutgers has little to offer the Big Ten, except for an extra easy win on the schedule for the current top-tier members.

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 2:33pm EDT Said:

Joe W – Your comment —>”Its not about viewers, its about number of cable subscribers. Expansion is much more about number of households receiving the signal than actually watching that signal or going to stadiums.”
Ok, then how was the addition of Nebraska to the Big Ten a positive move, when the “number of households receiving the signal and cable subscribers” is relatively small, due to relatively small population in the state?

Slayer on 11/18/2012 @ 2:52pm EDT Said:

You guys do realize that in New York/New Jersey, the tv market is a split of NYC and North and Central Jersey. The southern part of the state is tied into the Philadelphia market. Also, we have two(not one) pro football teams within 30 miles of Rutgers campus. Yet there is enough money in our area to support a successful college football program because of NJ, NYC and Philadelphia. When RU is good and we’re playing good teams like Big 10 competition, the fans come out. We have access to a 82,000 seat football stadium if needed.

Oh, and getting the Big 10 network on basic cable in the richest area of the country guarantees some crazy cash.

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/18/2012 @ 2:56pm EDT Said:

Eric – Your comment —> “do people who so strongly oppose this move actually believe they are more equipped to make such a decision than those who are actually making the decisions here? the conference brass obviously have done the research and know A LOT more than some internet message board poster.”
How is this a novel idea for you? Do you agree with every decision that a university official or politician makes, simply because they may have done more research than you have? The fact is that there are often times ulterior motives involved in decision making and the decisions that are made will effect different schools/football programs differently. Adding Rutgers/Maryland will be a chance for a bottom-half-of-the-conference team to get another win and become bowl eligible. But adding them, while potentially positive for some schools, will be a negative for the top-half-of-the-conference teams. It will weaken the strength of schedule of these teams and will lower the national perception of the conference (which is obviously what dictates human voting). That is how the SEC can have so many teams at the top of the rankings, even with 1 or 2 losses. The national perception is that the conference strength means that winning games in the conference deserve a higher ranking.

Chris on 11/18/2012 @ 3:19pm EDT Said:

I would be surprised if Rutgers didn’t immediately establish itself into the upper half of the B1G. Indiana, NW, Illinois, Purdue, and Minnesota are all inferior programs (and also Maryland for that matter). Penn State will take a very long time to get back on track and they’re unable to continue to steal NJ talent with their sanctions and Rutgers moving into their conference. Rutgers can more than compete against MSU, Iowa, Nebraska, Wisconsin, and Michigan this year. Ohio State is probably the only program that would be a real long shot to lose to Rutgers. And FYI, in the NYC market Rutgers has the top 5 highest rated games on ESPNU, ESPN 2, and 4 of the top 5 on ESPN. With practically zero history, Rutgers is a bigger following than you suppose and pitting them against the likes of OSU and Michigan will only draw people and interest in the area. As far as attendance goes, tune in 11/29 to ESPN and see if Rutgers has any issues filling the stadium. The atmosphere will be like that for all B1G games.

As far as academics, Rutgers is AAU and ranked #68 in the US News and World Report. Not great, but keep an eye on that ranking when they retrieve UMDNJ from the state after NJ took their medical school from them.

Either way, I understand misgivings about taking Rutgers in the B1G from purists. But have an open mind I think in a few years you will be pleasantly surprised. Being a Rutgers alum I’m obviously very optimistic but we’ll see how it all shakes out.

Josh on 11/18/2012 @ 3:22pm EDT Said:

With Nebraska the B10 could have a championship game which essentially pays for Nebraska.

sbuel2 on 11/18/2012 @ 3:30pm EDT Said:

Rutgers will probably be in a BCS bowl game this year as the Big East Champion. TV markets and money when split evenly is nothing to sneeze at. With the new BCS playoff in 2014, some realignment will take place. ND moved all its other sports to ACC, dropping B1G teams to schedule ACC games so if they declare football anywhere it will probably be ACC not B1G. Looks like Rose Bowl opponent this year will be Stanford, Oregon or UCLA. BCS is another mess this year but the playoffs are BCS controlled for another 12 years starting in 2014.

Look ahead and ACC and SEC are both 14 team conferences.

Joe W on 11/18/2012 @ 4:28pm EDT Said:

I still believe this is about carrying BTN on basic cable tiers in the mid Atlantic and NY/NJ areas and yes…Nebraska was a different situation…being an addition of a national brand. In this case the only national brands that also have the academic credentials are Texas, ND, Florida, and maybe North Carolina or Duke if looking at B Ball only. Since those schools are not likely to move, other moves need to be about number of basic cable subscribers since the revenue from the per subscriber pool is the largest of the revenue sources (others being advertising, etc). With any acquisition there is risk, but to this point the executives making the decisions have done well to position the conference as the most valuable. I don’t think it makes sense as a fan…I do think it has merits (understanding there is risk) from a business point of view.

just john on 11/18/2012 @ 8:20pm EDT Said:

I can’t believe people still use that blog from the ny times as research it has been proven incorrect so many times I find it funny that the times did not remove it. I personally think the ACC will be looking to bring in the vast majority of the eastern big east teams when fsu, Clemson and ga tech join the big XII, then the B1G needs to snap up UVa and UNC. Be the trend setter for 16 teams.

David on 11/18/2012 @ 8:44pm EDT Said:

heh chris:

US NEWS AND WORLD REPORT—-not very reliable anymore. Most academics look to the WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS. Rutgers is ranked #81 and 7 of the Big’s 13 CIC institutions are ranked higher….much higher than 81. Not to disparage Rutgers however, The University of Chicago at #9 and Michigan at 18 etc, is a big difference.

P.S. Notre Dame is at #89. great undergrad but not much else going on in South Bend.

Mister Furley on 11/18/2012 @ 11:58pm EDT Said:

People need to take the long view of this. AAU membership matters for the billions of dollars in federal grants doled out each year.

Secondly, cable subscribers within the footprint matter. Whether the eyeballs tune in is irrelevant.

Why does the NBA, NHL, and NFL all have 30 plus teams? Because with a nationwide collection of franchises, they blanket all the major media markets and can command huge tv rights from broadcast networks. Maryland and Rutgers are the tip of the iceberg. It may take a decade or two, but the Big Ten will look like the following when all is said and done.

Leaders Conference

Northwest Division: Washington, Oregon, Cal, Stanford
West Division: USC, UCLA, Arizona, Colorado
Southwest: Texas, Texas A&M, Kansas, Missouri
North: Nebraska, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota

Legends Conference

Central: Ohio State, Vanderbilt, Indiana, Purdue
Midwest: Northwestern, Illinois, Michigan, Michigan State
East: Penn State, Rutgers, Maryland, Virginia
Southeast: North Carolina, Duke, Georgia Tech, Florida

This would be financially greater than the current NCAA, and the pie only needs split 32 ways, not 100 plus ways as is the current case. Once the other AAU schools realize this, it will only take as long as needed to get out of current contracts.

marylandfan ( Paul from Baltimore) on 11/19/2012 @ 10:48am EDT Said:

You guys are pretty ignorant to alot of things about Maryland, im sure i would be about your conference also. But just for the record i’ll fill you in on a important fact you all should know , the C.E.O. of the largest growing power playing company in the sporting arena ( UNDER ARMOR) Kevin Plank is an alumni and most importnatly an x Maryland Football player.

Also this year not next year two years from now, Maryland Mens basketball will be in the top 15 before the dance. I ll go on record and also re visit the site to either eat my words or say i told you so !! Maryland is very is no small time school !! I can’t wait to kick some so called Big Ten powerhouse tails around . Oh Yeah !!!!

Paul – From Baltimore Raven Country Baby !!!!!!

ron mersky on 11/19/2012 @ 11:54am EDT Said:

Why in gawds name would VT, Clemson, or GT want to join the Big Ten? Will MD actually leave and pony up 50 million? I wouldn’t want to be any administrator who was even remotely involved in such a fiasco. The tremors from such a move will cause buildings to crumble near rt.1 and I95.

Big Ten will continue to trend downward... on 11/19/2012 @ 2:27pm EDT Said:

Marylandfan – Who cares if Maryland Men’s basketball will be in the top 15? It’s pretty obvious that basketball isn’t what is moving the needle for TV contracts. Just like every other recent conference switch-up, the move is solely focused around two things: football and money. Maryland does not fit in with the landscape of the Big Ten.

jim on 11/21/2012 @ 11:18pm EDT Said:

The recent announcement that Rutgers is merging with the major institutions of the Medical/Dentistrycomplex of New Jersey further elevates The State University of New Jersey’s standing in higher education. I highly value Coach Vivian Stringer’s opinion on the Big 10 expansion given her perpective from Iowa to Rutgers…womens basketball is significant to this parent of a only child-a woman.
The University of Maryland has a great tradition and many highly rated programs, acedemic,research and athletic. As a Buckeye fan i discovered through the Maryland web-site that their Pres. who introduced the “terrapin” mascot (Dr.”Curly” Byrd) hometown was Crisfield,Md. and was in office at the time I lived there as a kid. I say go “terps” and I can’t wait to watch the match up in any of the sports.