Pat Forde and ESPN are reporting that serious talks are afoot to fold Maryland and Rutgers into the Big Ten. Not only would that create a 14-member conference that'd surely be the biggest Ten in the world, it would reopen the scabby wound of major conference realignment. The ACC, the Terps' current home, would be pared down to a division-unfriendly total of 13 (in 2014, at least); the Big East, the metastasizing conference-like blob where Rutgers has only recently emerged as a quasi-power, will be reduced to the membership of a curtain call at a Wu-Tang concert, which is to say, still vast.
The obstacles are likewise huge. The ACC recently approved a $50 million buyout penalty for early (that is to say, ever) withdrawal that, conspicuously in hindsight, only Florida State and Maryland opposed. Rutgers would need to drop a ransom of either $10 million or $20 million to ditch the Big East, depending on whether it gives enough notice and doesn't leave a bunch of nail holes in the walls or cat piss on the carpet. Last year West Virginia played hurry-up and paid the $20 mil to go to the Big 12—which, now at 10 members, might be the smallest 12 in the world, self-described bigness notwithstanding. Worth noting here is that Rutgers' athletic department was $26.8 million in the red in 2010-11. This could become quite an expensive round of Risk for all involved.
No word yet on whether Rutgers and Maryland would be Legends or Leaders in the Big Ten's cockamamie divisional scheme. But they would be big-media-market jewels when the conference negotiates cable deals past 2017. The likes of Iowa and Minnesota would be part of a conference clearly benefiting from East Coast media bias. And the likes of Nebraska, Ohio State, Penn State and Michigan would get to schedule decent football programs that have, respectively, played in just seven bowl games ever (Rutgers) and enjoyed all of six winning conference records since 1986 (the Terps). For most teams in the current Big Ten, this sizes up as a way to thump historical mediocrities in front of ever-larger, ever-more-lucrative audiences. What, this ginormous Ten would ask, could possibly be wrong with that plan.
Maryland, Rutgers in serious talks about move to Big Ten Conference [Yahoo]
Maryland, Rutgers to Big Ten? [ESPN]