Reports: Conference realignment is back

John F. Silver

The seismic change in college athletics may not be done after all.

According to a host of reports, Maryland is engaged in talks to go to the Big 10 and presumably would take Rutgers — currently the leader in the of the Big East — with them. That would all by destroy the Big East. 

Here’s the story from ESPN: http://espn.go.com/college-football/story/_/id/8644587/maryland-terrapins-rutgers-scarlet-knights-talks-join-big-ten-conference-sources-say

Maryland, unhappy at the addition of Notre Dame as an associate member, would head to the Big 10 with Rutgers being a natural 14th team. The dominoes don’t end there. The ACC would be down a team and that’s where UConn comes in. The Huskies have long coveted a spot in the ACC and have an academic as well as cultural fit with excellent basketball programs, soccer and other Olympic sports programs. Here’s ESPN on the possible realignment.

Big Ten officials did not respond to numerous requests seeking comment. ACC officials also did not respond to a request for comment. Maryland officials would not comment when asked after the Terps’ football game on Saturday.

If these dominoes were to fall then Connecticut would emerge as the most likely candidate to fill Maryland’s spot in the ACC. The ACC will be at 14 members in 2013-14 with the addition of the Big East’s Pittsburgh and Syracuse and 15 in all sports except football when Notre Dame joins, which could be as early as fall 2013.

The Huskies have made no bones about wanting out of the Big East, which is unwieldy having expanded to such Boise State and San Diego State.  The Huskies have put on a brave face and have committed to the Big East, but, they have always left an out for greener pastures publicly.

Now, the Big 10 would gain the Washington D.C. market with Maryland and a leg in the huge NYC market with Rutgers (no one team controls the NYC market, though Rutgers is the most popular football program).

As far as UConn to the ACC, it makes plenty of sense considering the natural rivalries the Huskies would have in the Northeast with Boston College and Syracuse and would also keep the conference on the Eastern seaboard.  The Huskies are more a domino in this conference realignment. If the ACC calls, they will jump, in the meantime the Big East tries to stay afloat as it renegotiates a new television deal.

Any defections from the Big East would likely signal the final death knell of the conference. New Big East commissioner Mike Aresco has secured the Big East access to a major bowl game and is working on a lucrative new TV deal. The loss of Rutgers to the equation could put TV negotiations back to zero and send Western members to be such as Boise State and San Diego State having second thoughts about joining the conference.  It would also rile basketball only members who have been pawns in the recent spate of conference realignment.

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