James Delany, Randy Edsall

Big Ten Commissioner James Delany, left, speaks with Maryland football coach Randy Edsall after a news conference that was held to announce Maryland's decision to move to the Big Ten in College Park, Md., Monday, Nov. 19, 2012.

Listen to folks discuss Maryland (and Rutgers) heading into the Big Ten Conference. In many cases, they break it down with all the enthusiasm of two guys discussing lawn mowers.

Conference expansion/realignment has become as intellectually stimulating as reading a lawn-mower manual.

This stuff is pretty easy to figure out. Maryland (and Rutgers) expand the Big Ten's opportunities to generate television/media revenue. The conference is pushing the Big Ten Network into a populous region. It's all about human eyeballs. In this case, about 20 million sets of eyeballs in the New York and Washington, D.C., areas alone.

How many of those eyeballs actually watch BTN is basically irrelevant as long as cable carriers in those areas pick up BTN.

Bottom line, the Big Ten is pushing its footprint -- "footprint" is a crucial word in any conference expansion/realignment discussion -- to the shores of the Atlantic Ocean. If nothing else, that sounds cool.

So, welcome aboard, Maryland (and Rutgers).

"Whoever they put on our schedule, we'll play," said Nebraska football coach Bo Pelini, obviously overcome with enthusiasm on a historic Monday in college sports.

It was historic, right?


Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany, as usual, is being hailed as a visionary, a brilliant strategist, an envelope-pusher. He probably is all that and more. But this move simply feels like financial common sense, and not much more from an athletic standpoint.

"We're not always going to be able to add a member that has got a nationally relevant, top-tier program like Penn State and Nebraska," Delany told ESPN.com. "If that's the litmus test, then there wouldn't be a lot of expansion around the country."

Some merry Big Ten folks like to pump the idea that adding Maryland (and Rutgers) creates new recruiting ground for member schools. We're essentially talking Washington, D.C./Baltimore, New Jersey and New York.

Nebraska already hits those areas to a certain extent, Pelini said.

"Certain extent" may be pushing it. In Nebraska's five most recent recruiting classes (including 2013), the Huskers have landed two players from the region -- Jason Ankrah in 2009 (Gaithersburg, Md.) and Marcus Newby in 2013 (North Potomac, Md.).

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Nebraska already has fiddled with changing recruiting areas in the wake of its move to the Big Ten.

"It's kind of like everything else," Pelini said. "You kind of wait and see. You try to figure it out and make the decisions you feel will be best for the program in the long term.

"With the changes in conference and everything we've gone through, it seems like it's been one change after another."

The burning question: Can Nebraska wrestle high school football talent from the likes of Maryland (and Rutgers)?

OK, that sounds snobbish. But the truth is, Maryland football has a spotty history. One of its primary selling points might be that the founder of Under Armour, Inc. (Kevin Plank) is a former Maryland football player. So, if nothing else, the Terps always will look pretty cool on game day (think Oregon), if you're into that sort of thing.

I gained respect Monday for Maryland second-year coach Randy Edsall. He hailed the move to the Big Ten as a boost for not only Terrapin athletics, but also for the university's academics. It was quite a magnanimous response for a coach whose time at the school might be short-lived.

He went 2-10 last season and is 4-7 this year.

If Edsall manages to hang around, he can help spend Maryland's windfall from this deal to improve football facilities. An indoor practice facility would be a good start.

"All those things we weren't able to do before, now we're going to be able to do by being a partner, by being a member, of the Big Ten Conference," he proclaimed.

College athletics is no different than many other business ventures. You often have to spend big money to make big money. Maryland likely will have to fork over a $50 million exit fee to the ACC. When Delany comes calling, you do what you have to do.

"With all this expansion going on, you're never sure of anything," Edsall said.

He knows enough about Big Ten football to understand that "you better buckle up and be ready to play, because it's going to be physical, tough football," he said.

Yeah, makes for pretty good TV.

Reach Steven M. Sipple at 402-473-7440 or ssipple@journalstar.com.


Husker columnist

Steven, a lifelong Nebraskan, newspaper enthusiast and UNL grad, joined the Journal Star in 1990 and has covered NU football since 1995.

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