About a year ago, I wrote an article discussing possible expansion and/or realignment within the Big Ten. I wrote that the best move for the conference would be to add Notre Dame and Missouri, among other options.
Well, it turns out that I looked in the wrong direction. Literally.
Instead of looking westward, commissioner Jim Delany decided to look towards the Atlantic to expand the "footprint" of the Big Ten, adding Maryland from the Atlantic Coast Conference and Rutgers from the Big East. These two schools are scheduled to join the conference for the 2014-15 school year.
Now what does this mean for the rest of college sports?
Well, this could be simply an isolated incident, but sources speaking to ESPN's Brett McMurphy state that Boise State, San Diego State and BYU have all been in talks with their former conference, the Mountain West, about returning there instead of going to the Big East, though San Diego officials state that they are committed to their move.
The Big East itself will certainly change, with some saying that the conference may be torn apart by bigger conferences looking to expand. The ACC is speculated to add UConn, but nothing has been confirmed as of November 20th.
But what about the Big Ten? How will these teams line up in the conference divisions with some of the worst names ever? Currently, the Leaders division contains Wisconsin, Ohio State, Illinois, Purdue, Indiana and Penn State, while the Legends division contains Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Northwestern and Iowa. Maryland could go to the Leaders and Rutgers to the Legends, but here's an idea I proposed last year.
A new West division would contain Nebraska, Iowa, Northwestern, Wisconsin, Illinois, Minnesota and Purdue. The East would then contain Michigan, Michigan State, Ohio State, Penn State, Indiana, and newcomers Maryland and Rutgers.
The obvious problem is that if this alignment were currently utilized, Wisconsin and Nebraska would have an advantage over their competition, and there would be a logjam atop the East with Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State and Rutgers. Granted, this will often change from year to year, but it is the single largest problem with realignment.
No matter what happens, conference realignment is once again a reality, and Maryland/ Rutgers were simply the first pieces to move. It's unknown how this latest round will end, but speculation is sure to be the norm for the immediate future in college sports.
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