I don't know how or if it will play out but it appears Maryland and Rutgers are headed to the Big Ten. BC fans and observers have spent endless hours discussing conference realignment and what BC can and should do to protect our interests. Maryland and Rutgers proves that none of it matters. They will be part of one of the power conferences not because of their sports, not because of their money, not because of their academic reputation, nor because of their fundraising. It won't even be about their TV ratings. Neither school drives ratings like other "available" schools. They are being selected because of the number of cable subscribers in their respective home states. The Big Ten doesn't even care if people watch Maryland or Rutgers. They just want people who live in those states to pay $1.50 a month for the privileged of watching Maryland and Rutgers as part of Big Ten football.
In a way the move is a relief. We are starting to remove pretenses about what matters and why the conferences are doing what they are doing.
As always this leaves the ACC vulnerable. If the $50 million exit fee wasn't enough to prevent cash-strapped Maryland from leaving, it won't be enough to keep other schools. As long as the ACC is without its own cable platform, we will never have the revenue or distribution leverage. When the ACC leadership got coldfeet years ago about starting their own network, the die was cast.
The only saving grace is our codependency on ESPN and Notre Dame. Neither are going anywhere and both need BC and a few other castoffs on life support. Notre Dame needs us because this move from the Big Ten signals the Irish are going to be very limited in their Big Ten scheduling. ESPN needs us because the ACC is their only true content partner. They need college football games to fill all their networks. With the Big Ten, Pac 12 and soon to be SEC keeping more and more of their own content away from ESPN, the worldwide leader has no choice but to show ACC games.
This is not the end of conference shuffles. It never is. I just hope BC's leadership keeps all options open. That's the best we can do at this point.