College Football Realignment: Maryland to Leave ACC, Join Big 10?


So now Maryland, a 1953 charter member of the ACC is thinking about joining the Big 10 and they might be willing to pay $50 million to get out of their conference affiliation. Are you kidding me, for what?

So it's teams and parents can travel to far away places for away games with increased costs? So it can stop playing local and traditional rivals in football and basketball like North Carolina, Duke and Virginia? I would like to read the ROI report on this move.

There is a stench of desperation coming from College Park, Maryland and it is palpable. I know the basketball team implosion of the past few years has not helped fill the Comcast Center, but does the administration really think the crowds will increase with Iowa, Minnesota and Northwestern on the schedule instead of North Carolina and Duke?

I thought the ACC was the big shot on campus after making the moves to bring on Miami, Florida State, Virginia Tech and Boston College. They got their 12 teams, their split conferences and their conference championship game in football. What happened to that brilliant plan? How’s that working out for you? I guess not so well. So what’s the answer according to the big cheeses of the ACC? Add more teams including Pittsburgh and Syracuse.

The Maryland move is just a symptom and might be the epitome of a much larger problem in college athletics, which has gotten out of control. It speaks to the lack of leadership and organizational structure of the NCAA and of the conference independence. It speaks to a lack of vision and to a self-interest first approach on the part of the colleges and universities. It’s “every man for himself” and it feels like a really bad reality dating show.

It reminds me of other disasters in sports when there is an obvious fraction of interests with no common vision. Think of the Indy Car (IRL) – CART breakup. One group wanted to go around in circle. The other wanted to weave left and right. The resulting split devastated the sport and they are left with just a few core fans.

Boxing is another example of a sport with no core leadership and direction. The result was so many “world champions” no one had any idea what was going on and finally decided it wasn’t worth the effort figuring it out.

Which brings us back to college athletics and the recent moves that the average Joe is attempting to keep up with.

    •    West Virginia plays in the Big 12, which has 10 teams?
    •    Nebraska is in the Big 10, which has 12 teams?
    •    Missouri is in the SEC? When did that happen?
    •    Texas was thinking of going to the PAC 10?
    •    Notre Dame kinda is a part of the ACC or is that the Big East?
    •    Texas A&M, BYU, Penn State, BC, Florida State again, Pittsburgh, Syracuse now Maryland and Rutgers, etc.…

It’s a disaster and it’s getting worse. You don’t simply replace decades of traditional rivalries overnight so you might not want to take them for granted. All of these institutions are supposed to be filled with brilliant individuals and they can’t figure out a better way? Do they not have marketing professors and deep and wide research results because even I can still remember the chapter on “Branding” in Marketing 101?  

So Maryland, you go ahead and pay your $50 million to play on a greener field and all the other institutions can do what’s in their best self-interest. Just know this: you are losing us.

Wirtten by Steve Wright for

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