At this point, the people (and pundits) have spoken, and most of them seem to believe that Maryland and Rutgers joining the Big Ten is kind of a silly idea.
But nevertheless, it's happening. Maryland's Board of Directors voted on Monday to make the move from the ACC, and Rutgers followed suit, jumping ship from the Big East.
It seems obvious that the move wasn't made to enhance competition. Rutgers may be 9-1 this year, but it was 9-4 last year and 4-8 in 2010. And that's in the Big East, which isn't the most intimidating of conferences. The Scarlet Knights have a long way to go.
Maryland, meanwhile, isn't going to offer much help in strengthening the Big Ten's reputation as a powerhouse conference. The Terps are 4-7 this year and just 2-5 in ACC play, during a year in which the ACC has been one of the most disappointing conferences in college football. Since 2009, they've posted a winning record just once.
Still, this is a good-ish move for the Big Ten for revenue and television purposes. According to USA Today's Michael Hiestand, expanding the Big Ten to the East Coast will result in Fox buying a stake in the YES Network, which should then drastically increase viewership for conference games.
And in today's college football landscape, turning a profit is often more meaningful than building the most competitive conference.
Here's a look at some of the latest reaction to the news from around the sports universe.
SI.com's Pete Thamel isn't crazy about the realignment, which he perceives as being 100-percent financially motivated. But he also recognizes that for better or worse, money and profit potential dictate conference allegiances these days, and it is what it is.
But that doesn't mean that the move comes without substantial risk: There is no guarantee that the Big Ten is going to gain a vast amount of additional viewership for its TV network once the move is complete. And without more subscribers, there isn't any money.
According to a television executive familiar with the Northeast corridor, the move could ultimately be worth as much as $200 million annually for the Big Ten in cable subscription fees. This is a Pollyannaish figure that's unlikely to ever materialize, but it shows the scope of the potential value. The interesting part, considering the current cable climate, is that the move also comes with considerable risk.
Mark Blaudschun writes that the Big Ten isn't done quite yet and has its sights set on a few more ACC members:
More expansion is coming. BC, Georgia Tech could be next in Big Ten plan. ACC needs to go to 16 now. ajerseyguy.com— mark blaudschun (@blauds) November 21, 2012
The Sporting News' Steve Greenberg lays out the obvious, at least where Maryland is concerned in this move: There may be money in it, but what about success on the gridiron? This is a team that has trouble beating Boston College during a season in which BC barely qualifies as a Division I team. How is Maryland going to compete with the Ohio States and Michigans of the world?
Greenberg writes, "Not to go all negative on the Terrapins’ move to the Big Ten, but at best it’s a win-lose scenario from the football point of view. Win a lot of money, lose a ton of games."
New York Magazine's Jonathan Chait understands that the big motivator for the move is money, but he doesn't understand why the schools involved are so desperate for more. He also equates the Big Ten's acquisition of Maryland and Rutgers to a "venture capital firm [buying] the local factory and [shutting] it down."
No major conference in college sports is ever going to stop yearning for bigger profits, but it's an interesting point, nonetheless.
The first question the conference hasn’t quite answered here is, why should these schools care about making more money? Money is obviously vital to college athletics as a threshold question. If you’re running an athletic department, you need to bring in enough revenue to fund your operations. But beyond that threshold, you don’t need more money. Universities are nonprofit institutions. There are no stockholders. At some point, more revenue simply means that athletic directors need to find more things to spend their windfall on.
And last but not least, Wisconsin.com's Tom Oates sums up the expansion pretty nicely with this tweet:
If Big Ten thinks Maryland and Rutgers are attractive expansion prospects, it must be wearing beer goggles.— Tom Oates (@TomOatesWSJ) November 17, 2012