A week ago today, this was nothing more than a rumor. And for the most part, it was a rumor that everyone--event the most well-connected insiders in the world of college football--pretty much laughed off. Because, really, the idea was laughable.
I mean, Maryland to the Big Ten? Maryland?
In a move that has shaken the college football world and opened the possibility for even more conference realignment in the months to come, the regents of the University of Maryland on Monday morning voted to accept an invitation to the Big Ten conference starting with the 2014-2015 academic year. With that vote, Maryland has severed ties with the ACC, which has served as its home since 1953. The Terrapins were founding members of that league.
"Our best wishes are extended to all of the people associated with the University of Maryland," ACC commissioner John Swofford said in a statement. "Since our inception, they have been an outstanding member of our conference and we are sorry to see them exit. For the past 60 years the Atlantic Coast Conference has exhibited leadership in academics and athletics. This is our foundation and we look forward to building on it as we move forward."
The Terps' jump to the Big Ten is possibly the most stunning move yet in college football's ongoing conference realignment process, and now that's it's official, more changes are anticipated. Rutgers is widely expected to accept a Big Ten invitation on Tuesday, and the ACC, now down one member, will very likely approach UConn out of the Big East. That will in turn force the Big East to scramble yet again to find new schools, or risk implosion.
There is also the question of whether Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany will stop at 14, or plow forward with a plan that would see his league expand to 16 teams. If that were to happen, the SEC and Pac-12 might be tempted to expand again as well, putting the Big 12 and ACC at further risk.
In other words, prepare yourselves, folks. Because at this point, anything is possible.
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