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Tuesday, November 20, 2012
3-point stance: Expanding to pay the bills

By Ivan Maisel

1. The Big Ten's grab of Maryland and (presumably) Rutgers makes perfect sense if you are a) an athletic director trying to pay bills or b) a conference commissioner trying to increase your market footprint in order to make more money for your members to, yes, pay bills. In athletic terms, the Big Ten is diluting its football product, which is saying something given the thin gruel it put on the field this year. Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said Maryland is a “buy and hold.” That’s the only way this makes sense.

2. Delany listed in a teleconference Monday all the ways in which the Big Ten has been innovative: luring Penn State out of independence in 1990, starting the Big Ten Network, plucking Nebraska, another traditional power, out of the Big 12. Taking Maryland and Rutgers isn’t innovative. The Big Ten could have taken them last week, last month, or five years ago.

3. Delany framed the move in the context of other leagues going beyond their geographical boundaries: the SEC expanded westward, the Big 12 took West Virginia, and the ACC made a deal with Notre Dame. Since when does the Big Ten do something because everyone else did it? True, the league expanded eastward into states contiguous with Penn State. But the league didn’t expand for traditional powers (Nittany Lions, Huskers), as it did in the past. The Big Ten took a couple of guys, mainly for their TVs.