Move to Big Ten makes sense for Maryland

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Cheers and Jeers,Sports,College,Kevin Dunleavy

What's so hard to figure out about Maryland and Rutgers possibly going to the Big Ten? There are no boundaries left in college sports or limits to how far schools will go to maximize profit. Geography and tradition are secondary concerns, overwhelmed by the variable that matters most: money.

For the Big Ten, tapping into the television markets of New York, Baltimore and Washington makes sense. And for Maryland and Rutgers, joining a conference with the power and foresight to create its own TV network makes sense as well.

When the Maryland Board of Regents meets to determine the course the Terrapins will take Monday, it will be a choice between tradition and the almighty dollar.

Sure, it will be tough for Maryland to let go of 60 years in the ACC. But the Carolina-centric league was never a fit in the first place. After all these years, Maryland still doesn't have a football rival. In basketball, its "rivalry" with Duke is a one-way proposition.

It's time for Maryland to think big. Consider football games against Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska and former rival Penn State and basketball games with Indiana, Michigan State, Illinois and Purdue.

Opponents of the Maryland move will point to the least attractive members of the Big Ten: Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern. But games with these schools would be no less enticing than those the Terps play now against Boston College, Florida State and Wake Forest.

Before coming to Maryland, president Wallace Loh spent two years at the University of Iowa. It might be the ninth or 10th school you think of in the Big Ten. But this year, the 4-7 football team has sold out all six home dates -- 70,585 strong, even for Central Michigan.

That's what sports in a big-time conference looks like, not the announced crowd of 35,244 on Saturday at Byrd Stadium to watch Maryland play No. 10 Florida State.

Another forward-thinking player is Kevin Plank, head of Under Armour, which outfits Maryland athletics. He knows how much more power his brand would have with the Terps in the Big Ten. It might even be worth the $50 million exit fee that the ACC requires and that Loh voted against earlier this year.

- Kevin Dunleavy

kdunleavy@washingtonexaminer.com

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Kevin Dunleavy

Staff writer - sports
The Washington Examiner