Jim Delany’s not even bothering to try to sell Maryland as anything other than a television move.
“This is a long-term play,” Delany said. “There’s no reason that Maryland can’t be a prominent football program. They have great recruiting and great markets. And good competition makes everybody better.”
Baby, you sure have some great markets there. Hubba hubba!
Andy Staples tells the
fans stupid sentimentalists to get a life.
So why does everyone hate Maryland’s move to the Big Ten?
The answer is simple. College sports are built on nostalgia. Everyone wants everything to be exactly as it was when they attended Old State U. That way, every Saturday is a trip back to the best time of their lives. When they flip on the television and see Utah playing USC in a conference game, it wrecks that nostalgia. Most people either can’t or won’t accept what big-time college athletics actually is. It is a big business that happens to be attached to mostly publicly funded universities. That attachment brings with it a number of complications. Taxpayers are schools’ shareholders, and administrators have a fiduciary duty to them. In other words, if you’re in charge at the University of Maryland and the Big Ten invites you and you say no, you should be fired immediately for breaching that fiduciary duty.
Funny, I thought you should be fired for exercising sufficient incompetence in running the athletic department to put it at financial risk in the first place.
I think what really bugs me about this more than the rest of the realignment games college football has played for the last few years put together is how profoundly mediocre the end result is. As Ivan Maisel put it, “Taking Maryland and Rutgers isn’t innovative. The Big Ten could have taken them last week, last month, or five years ago.”
This is Staples’ blessing of the situation:
None of us grew up with Ohio State-Maryland or Michigan-Rutgers. This is different, and different is always scary. But the Big Ten saw a chance to add value, and Maryland saw a chance to make more money in a time of economic uncertainty. This marriage may not square with your idea of which teams should or shouldn’t play in the Big Ten, but in this economy, none of us should be criticizing a school for making a sound fiscal choice.
It’s not that it’s scary. It’s that it’s boring. It’s like shopping for an insurance policy instead of a new car. We’re fans. We don’t give a rat’s ass about our schools making sound fiscal choices. (Just ask Tennessee fans about that right now.)
This is soul-numbing. And it’s been done in such an in-your-face way that it won’t even be worth making an effort to laugh the next time Delany has the stones to invoke tradition when he talks about the television programming he schedules, er… conference he leads.
I don’t even want to ponder whether this is the new template for conference expansion elsewhere. If it is, I’m gonna need a lot more bourbon.
UPDATE: Nate Silver, as only Nate Silver can, weighs in.
It is probably no coincidence that the two most popular college football conferences – the Southeastern and the Big Ten – have until now been the most conservative about expansion. The most recent additions to the Big Ten, Penn State and the University of Nebraska, ranked as the 3rd and 18th most popular football programs in the country. The newest additions to the Southeastern Conference, Texas A&M and Missouri, were ranked 6th and 23rd.
Rutgers and Maryland are outstanding public universities – but they are just not in the same league in terms of football.