This is entirely real and 100% awesome. That is all.
By now, we know full well what Debbie Yow's stance on Maryland and the Big Ten is, or at least her public one: it ain't happenin'.
She's publicly turned down any expansionist rumors on several occasions, and most recently did so a few days ago. But for as many people that take that word as entirely important, she'll likely not be the one making the decision. Rather, it'll be more up to the President of the University (currently Dan Mote, but someone new in a few months) and the Maryland Board of Regents and Chancellor, William Kirwin.
For the first time that I can remember, we've finally seen a quote from one of those people regarding expansion, and it's Tom McMillen, a Board of Regents member. Via Jeff Barker's piece in the Baltimore Sun:
"With 7 million people in the Baltimore-Washington area, that's a very attractive market," said McMillen, a member of the Board of Regents who starred in basketball at Maryland.
"It's the almighty dollar that's running the show," said McMillen, who introduced legislation to restore balance between athletics and academics while a member of Congress in 1991. "For Maryland to go into the Big Ten, [consider] just the travel. You might as well forget about those kids going to class."
McMillen and others say Maryland couldn't simply ignore an offer from the Big Ten or other conference. But "I would think it would be very, very hard for Maryland to consider it" seriously, he said.
Ultimately, it seems a sensible and very real position to take: a respectful decline. Again, everything could change if an offer was ever extended and this isn't necessarily his actual beliefs, but finally getting a word from one of the people that will be making the ultimate decision on this is important and satisfying.
In that same piece is the first quote from a Maryland (sorta) official I've seen toward expansion that could perhaps be skewed as positive:
"It's not the job of the Terrapin Club to select a conference we get to play in," said Rick Jaklitsch, president of the club, which provides scholarships for athletes. "But personally, I've always been frustrated by the Carolina-centric conference. Maybe the rumors about Maryland going to the Big Ten will make the ACC appreciate that for the ACC to be successful, Maryland needs to be successful because of the TV."
That's not a new complaint, but it's interesting to see it said by a person in a position of moderate influence.
Regardless, the real story here is that a member of the Board of Regents finally has a quote out on the topic, and it seems to be negative on Big Ten interest, but respectfully so.
For what it's worth, the Board of Regents will meet on the 18th. Even though realignment isn't specifically on the agenda - who would expect it to be? - there's still plenty of room to discuss it there, and I imagine it will come up.