Ah, conference expansion rumors. When we are lonely, you keep us company. For that, we will always love you.
The latest from the Big Ten Expansion Rumor Central has the conference moving south of the Mason-Dixon line, and of course Maryland is mentioned. We're the new Rutgers of Big Ten Expansion Talk. Cool.
Anyway, from the terribly named but simultaneously awesome Illinois blog, Frank the Tank's Slant comes Expansion Rumor #34156 (thanks to vp19 for the link):
It appears that the Big Ten has been heavily discussing the following five schools: Texas, Texas A&M, Maryland, Virginia and Vanderbilt. I'm not saying that these are the only five schools being discussed, none of the "usual suspects" such as Nebraska and Rutgers will end up being included, or the Big Ten has forgotten about Notre Dame, but these are apparently all targets that the conference is focusing on.
*read rest of post after jump and stupidly located poll*
All of those five schools are in the South, at least by the Big Ten's standards, all are solid from an academic standpoint, and all would deliver a new market to the B10 Network. Maryland and Virginia combined would certainly be enough to get the B10N in a lot more households in the DC area, and Texas and TAMU would carry the Lone Star State. Vandy doesn't add much in the way of TV revenue or athletics, but would be a great fit from an academic perspective.
Of course, this is nothing more than a rumor that will probably be debunked within days, or at the very least replaced by another, more sensational rumor that says that Florida and Cal-Berkley are the next targets. But it's worth noting that this rumor is not new; UVA, UMD, and Vandy have been cited before by Andy Katz as potential targets, and the Big Ten's desire for Texas isn't new.
To me, if the call came to whoever we're going to name as President and these were the five schools getting bids, it's a no-brainer for Maryland from both an athletic and academic standpoint. Virginia would assure that Maryland wouldn't be a geographical outlier and would provide a natural rival from the start. Considering raising Maryland's academic status has been a huge goal the past few years, the boost that would result from joining a B10 bolstered by Virginia and Vandy would be a pretty big boon.
But perhaps importantly to a lot of people here, Duke and UNC wouldn't be joining with Maryland, and the Terps would have to abandon a conference they started. No expansion rumor will be likely to change that.
The re-emergence of the rumor has made me think about where realignment stands in my eyes, and ask the same of you. A lot of factors go into this type of thing: academic benefits, athletic benefits, geography, demographics, economics, rivalries, loyalty, history...it's a complicated topic, no doubt.
We've had a ton of discussion on this in the past, but we've actually never had a poll on it, so what better time to break it out? Let's get scientific up in here. There's a vocal group of people that would leave, but majorities are often silent. Time to see the numbers.