With the recent (and fairly shocking) announcement that the Big Ten will be raiding the Big East and Atlantic Coast Conference (ACC) to add Rutgers and Maryland respectively to the conference, several questions come to mind. While it's not hard to see why Jim Delaney decided to expand the Big Ten for the second time since 2011 (keeping up with the other power conferences in membership numbers, expanding the conference fan-base and money), it will be interesting to see what the effects of this expansion shall be. We'll take a look at several of these effects now.
The first thought that probably popped into your head was, "Why these two schools?" Besides the obvious answer (a more lucrative deal with the Big Ten Network), there are several reasons why the Big Ten added them to the conference.
First, it expands the conference all the way to the Atlantic Ocean, as Maryland and New Jersey (where Rutgers resides), which will bring in a larger and more diverse fanbase to the conference.
Ranging all the way from Nebraska to New Jersey, the Big Ten Conference will now span over 1,700 miles of the continental United States, and with close to six million residents in Maryland and nine million in New Jersey (according to the United States Census), the move adds millions of fans to the conference.
Secondly, the expansion brings several strong teams that both schools have, which will make the Big Ten a stronger conference as a whole. Ultimately, the move was made to generate more revenue for the conference, but we'll now look at how the expansion will affect the Big Ten, ACC and Big East.
Maryland has generally been a strong team in the ACC, with football, basketball and lacrosse being the flagship teams of the program. While the football team has not been as competitive lately, they still have potential to compete in the Big Ten and add depth to the conference.
The Terrapins men's basketball team is a prestigious program and had a high amount of success recently, with the pinnacle being two straight appearances in the Final Four in 2001 and 2002, as well as their victory of the 2002 men's basketball championship. Even without legendary coach Gary Williams at the helm, Maryland will likely join Michigan State, Ohio State, Indiana and Wisconsin as perennial contenders for the league championship.
Finally, Maryland's men's lacrosse team is one of the best in the country and has been a national title contender recently, making the Final Four in the past two years. While the Big Ten's lacrosse league is far behind the ACC and Big East in terms of prestige and strength, adding a team like the Terrapins will only make the conference better.
While Rutgers does not have as many strong teams as Maryland, their football team has been on the rise since former Scarlet Knights coach Greg Schiano, now with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, took over the program in 2001. The Scarlet Knights are currently 9-1, undefeated in Big East play (5-0) and ranked 18th in the BCS standings.
The level of competition will rise significantly with the Scarlet Knights move from the Big East to the Big Ten, but Rutgers is clearly improving and could be a solid team—even a contender—after the conference change.
The Scarlet Knights men's basketball team has always had difficulty competing in the Big East and will continue to do so in the Big Ten. A change of competition may help, but it's hard to envision Rutgers being much of a player in a conference with several national title contenders.
Losing a program like Maryland would be a terrible blow to most conferences, but the ACC should be fine without them. With the recent additions of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and Notre Dame (even though Notre Dame's football team is not officially a member of the league), the ACC will manage without the Terrapins.
All three programs have very strong basketball teams, and while Notre Dame clearly has the best football team of all the schools mentioned, Pittsburgh and Syracuse have decent teams that have plenty of history behind them and will strengthen the conference overall.
From a basketball standpoint, the Big East is not losing much as Rutgers leaves for the Big Ten, but they certainly will lose a strong football program. They've been one of the better teams in the conference, and with the losses of Pittsburgh, Syracuse and West Virginia, the Big East has certainly lost much of its top talent.
The addition of Boise State will help, but it's hard to imagine how the Big East will cope with the loss of several of its top-tier programs.