When the rumors started surfacing about Maryland possibly leaving the ACC to go to the Big Ten, I believed in them about as much as I believe in Santa Claus or the Easter bunny. We have heard so many rumors about every school in the ACC going to one conference or another since the realignment really got going that I figured it was just a silly rumor. But then the stories came out that there was going to be a vote on changing conferences. Then I finally realized that there were some legs to these rumors. But why would a charter member of the ACC want to leave a conference they've been in for nearly 60 years to go another conference? The answer can be summed it in one word: money.
What the Terps have done with their own money has been pretty shabby at best. The athletic department was broke, and they had to cut seven programs just this summer in order to make ends meet. Now they have to figure out how they're going to pay the exit fee of $50 million dollars. That number could be lower if they are able to successfully negotiate with John Swofford and his crew. And where is all of this money coming from? Look no farther than Kevin Plank, Under Armour CEO and basically the athletic department's personal financier. He recently sold off $65 million in stock from his company. Coincidence? I think not. What I would like to know is if Plank cared so much about the school, why couldn't he have found a way to save the seven programs that were cut by the school? Clearly Plank is more interested in continuing to make uniforms for the football team that look like something designed by four year olds.
The rivalries and the tradition the school has established in its time in the ACC no longer mean anything. In fact, like many other schools that have bailed on conferences to join other ones in their ever lasting thirst for the almighty dollar, tradition is no longer a word in these schools vocabularies. The Terps have won 187 conference championships in their time in the ACC, which is second in the conference's history. Only North Carolina has won more. But who cares? The extra dollars they they're recklessly blowing are far more important. They added more seats to the Byrd Stadium, plus built a new basketball arena with hopes it will draw more money. But that's only made things worse.
Speaking of money, let's talk about road trips for the Maryland fans. Do you really think Maryland fans will want to fly in to Minneapolis in the middle of November when it's 30 degrees and snowing out to see a football game? When you factor in round trip airfare, hotel, tickets, concessions, etc, and I wish you luck in spending less than $1000 on the trip. The same can be said for going to Lincoln, Nebraska or Iowa City, Iowa. You might as well take out a loan if you want to go to these games.
The biggest thing that ended up being in Maryland's favor is their location. It's within a 40 minute drive of Baltimore and Washington DC. The Big Ten Network, which is a big reason that Maryland will get this extra income, will be more entrenched in this market, which could potentially mean more rating for their shows. But let's be honest. How many people in this market would be that interested in watching a non conference game between Wisconsin and South Dakota State? Is it going to make that big of a difference.
It is going to be different seeing the ACC in the coming years without Maryland as a part of it. It's earn and wildly spend mentality got them in big trouble financially, and thanks to location, got a big bailout from Jim Delaney and the Big Ten. So long Maryland. Don't let the door hit you on the way out.