Thu Jun 17 10:27am EDT
Of all the numerous head-spinning Big Ten expansion scenarios that have been bandied about in the past six months, the most damaging to college basketball would be if the conference plucks Maryland from the ACC.
Gone would be the Terrapins' simmering rivalry with Duke and their annual matchups with traditional foes North Carolina and Virginia. In their place would be oh-so-riveting showdowns with ... Minnesota, Ohio State and Iowa?
Well, even though the Big Ten has acknowledged the possibility of a second wave of expansion within the next year, we can take solace that the two most powerful people in the Maryland athletic department told Fanhouse they aren't interested.
Said basketball coach Gary Williams: "We've been in the ACC from the beginning. We've built up rivalries for the past 50-60 years. I think people would miss that."
Said athletic director Debbie Yow: "Why would we go anywhere? For money? I think we have less callous, bottom-line motivations than that."
There certainly are a handful of factors that would make Maryland and the Big Ten mutually attractive to one-another.
For the Big Ten, it would be the possibility of gaining a foothold in the lucrative Washington DC television market. For Maryland, it would be the chance to increase their annual TV revenue and emerge from the shadow of Tobacco Road basketball in the process.
Still, as much as Maryland fans complain that the ACC is Duke and North Carolina-centric and that the conference tournament is annually held on Tobacco road, those matchups are part of the athletic fabric of the school.
The ACC's compact geography is a better fit than the Big Ten and its academic reputation is not far behind. And even the seismic gap in TV revenue has closed thanks to the $155 million TV contract the ACC signed with ESPN last month.
"For myself, having played at Maryland, I'm hoping we don't go to the Big Ten,'' Williams said.
Good, Gary, you're not the only one.