Why Maryland can compete in the Big Ten

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports

It's time to stop pretending that Maryland is going to be a bottom dweller in the Big Ten.

It's a narrative I've grown tired of hearing; Maryland isn't going to be competitive in the Big Ten. They're going to be bottom feeders who never have a chance to compete for conference titles and will essentially be an easy "W" on the schedule for most teams in most sports.

Please.

As a society, most of us have subscribed to a "what have you done for me lately" approach to life that also transcends into sports. Your team is in a down period? That means they'll always been in a down period, so don't bother trying to improve, it's pointless.

Down now doesn't mean down forever

When it comes to Maryland football and basketball, it's the first thing most people want to say when the topic of the University joining the Big Ten comes up. "They're going to get crushed in football" they say. "For a school that considers itself a basketball school, they sure haven't been to the tournament a lot over the past decade," someone proclaims in their latest hot take about the school's move to their new conference. But that's the equivalent of looking at how a stock has performed during only a small fraction of time and using that snapshot to decide how you want to invest your money.

Like a stock, Maryland football has had its ups and downs. Maryland has experienced periods of dominance (1947-1955, 1973-1985, 2001-2003) but has also had periods of down years as well, including several of the past seasons. But even with the program's up and down history, the overall win percentage of .531 is better than the following B1G foes: Iowa (.530), Purdue (.526), Rutgers (.513), Illinois (.511), Northwestern (.440), and Indiana (.414). Maryland also won the third-most ACC titles in football (9).

Obviously, Maryland will also be facing teams that are perennially some of the best in the country, including Ohio State, Michigan, Nebraska, Penn State, and Michigan State. Those aren't going to be easy games, but Maryland has already been facing some pretty solid competition in an ACC that included Florida State, Clemson, and Virginia Tech, among others. Maryland has shown they can compete against good football teams, but they've struggled to do so consistently. The move to the Big Ten, however, should help provide Maryland with some of the financial resources necessary to make both the football and basketball team more competitive on a yearly basis. Once they can build things like a new indoor practice facility, they can hopefully build on the stay at home movement they've started and continue to keep more elite talent in College Park.

Maryland basketball is going to be good again, folks, and soon. While there was an exodus of transfers following the 2013-2014 season, head coach Mark Turgeon now has the players in place to bring Maryland back to the elite level they enjoyed under former head coach Gary Williams. While there are some very famed basketball programs in the Big Ten, such as Indiana, Ohio State, Michigan, and Michigan State, Maryland is coming from arguably the most basketball rich conference in the country. Maryland had no problem competing with the likes of Duke and North Carolina, and I'm certain they'll be able to do the same when they face the elite teams of the B1G.

Looking beyond football and men's basketball

Aside from Maryland basketball and football, the vast majority of Maryland athletics has been doing pretty darn well the past several years. Last season, Maryland's women's lacrosse won a National Title, Men's lacrosse made a final four appearance, the baseball team made it to a Super Regional, women's basketball made it to the Final Four, and men's soccer made it to the Final Four. As a result, Maryland finished 9th in the men's and 4th in women's standings of the Capital One Cup.

While Maryland didn't do well in every sport in their final ACC season, they've obviously shown the ability to succeed at a high level in a number of the non-revenue sports, a trend that should continue and potentially even improve as a member of the Big Ten.

New conference, new resources

I spoke about it briefly above, but joining the Big Ten is providing Maryland with a lot of additional financial resources that should allow the school to invest in facilities, recruiting and other needs that should help Maryland become more competitive than they would have been had they remained in the ACC.

By joining the Big Ten, one of the greatest benefits Maryland will see is a significant increase in revenue paid out to the school. This revenue will not only help Maryland regain their financial footing, but should allow the school to increase their investment on per-athlete spending, where they currently lag behind their B1G peers.

While Maryland football is focused on locking down local recruits in the state of Maryland, both football and basketball had expanded their recruiting westward, opening up new territory that previously wouldn't have been considered had the school remained as a member of the ACC.

All of these things will allow Maryland to do better in recruiting, in developing their athletes once they arrive on campus, and help bring them closer in line to their conference peers.

Conclusion

Maryland probably isn't going to come into the Big Ten this year and instantly dominate the football and men's basketball scene. But they're certainly capable of making some noise in the conference, while occasionally being among the best. With additional resources, Maryland has the opportunity to continue to build to become a consistent winner in both football and basketball. So let's stop assigning them to the bottom of the B1G standings before they've played a single game as a member of the conference.

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