If you were around here last summer, you might remember the wealth of discussion about the Big Ten potentially snapping up Maryland. Ultimately, of course, nothing came of it, and it looks like nothing will, though something could potentially go down should the conference decide to go to 16, as unlikely as that appears to be in the near future.
But another "Big" conference hasn't given up the dream of expanding. I missed this yesterday, but a friendly h/t goes out to both BC Interruption and SBN DC:
The dream scenario would be the current league, plus TCU and BC and Maryland and if three schools of that quality were added, then a 12th school could be a Villanova or Central Florida and the conference would clearly be better. However, adding Villanova or Central Florida as the 10th school or adding both as the 10th and 11th schools would not add a thing to the conference and thus is not attractive to anyone at this point.
That comes from a conversation Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Paul Zeise had with Pitt AD Steve Pederson and West Virginia AD Oliver Luck. Takeaway for you: yes, the Big East wants Maryland.
Normally, this is where I'd say "Yeah, sure, guys. Whatever. My 'dream scenario' is for Maryland to land Mitch McGary, Amile Jefferson, Shaquille Cleare, Elijah Macon, and Robert Carter. Only one of those things can happen." (Kidding, of course.) The Big East is the only conference in a worse situation than the ACC. Like we'd ever join that.
"But wait!" Big East commissioner John Marinatoo would say. They actually have something to offer:
Well, money, and that's where the high stakes poker game with television networks that the Big East - at the prodding of [Pitt AD Steve] Pederson and company - comes into play. The conference hopes it can parlay NBC/Comcast's new found interest in college sports programming into a bidding war with ESPN to drive the price up to a level much higher than what the ACC's current (and long-term) deal gives each team.
...[N]ow the Big East is the last of the major conferences without a new deal which means it has some leverage on NBC/Comcast since the network is desperate to get into the college sports business. ...
[C]onference officials hope they can create a bidding war and get a far more lucrative package from ESPN than the original offer from a few months ago (the hope is the deal reaches the $16 million per team per year range, which is about $3 million more per team than the ACC deal).
So, financially, there's an advantage to potentially be had in joining the Big East. And with the department's current financial woes, every bit of money means something. That extra $3mil is the difference between dropping 2 sports and dropping 5 sports. Or building an indoor practice facility for football or ... not. Which sounds more palatable?
But no one in the administration, academic or athletic, seemed particularly psyched about joining the Big Ten, and that would've been a lot more than a $3mil bonus. Perhaps with Wallace Loh and Kevin Anderson at the helm this time, things might be different, but Debbie Yow, Dan Mote, and even the Board of Regents seemed pretty well caught up in ACC pride last time around.
And why shouldn't they be? Maryland has been in the ACC since its founding, and the rivalries formed with Duke, UNC, Virginia, and N.C. State will be tough to give up. It's a lot of tradition to sacrifice for the potential of an extra $3mil bones or so. Plus, I have to believe the academic folks will have a problem joining a conference also consisting of TCU - not for the academic reputation, but instead for the ridiculous travel.
Most people would still have problems joining the Big East with the football/non-football conference split, too. I myself have some problems joining up with a conference that would feature 20 basketball teams, many of them deadwood compared to the rest of the conference. (Looking at you, Seton Hall, Providence, and DePaul. You can't live off past glories forever.) But dropping them is, as Marinatto said, "off the table."
If the Big East is serious about trying to snipe Maryland, they'll need to do better than $3mil, I'm guessing. In fact, I see no reason for the ACC to just instead poach the Big East's best, building a 16-team super-conference of their own. Either way, I'm ready to do this again.