Maryland, a charter member of the ACC, is leaving for the Big Ten. Could this mean bad things for the ACC as a whole? I'm not sure, but honestly, the more I think about this, the more I'm disquieted.
No, you're not misreading, Maryland is going to the Big Ten. Now, initially I kind of laughed it off; Maryland's football program is probably going to get rolled for years (no offense, guys) and a move to the Big Ten, in my opinion, is a lateral move in basketball. I don't feel like Maryland has raised the profile of the ACC at all lately (and I'm not saying Wake has either, Terps fans), and the ACC is gaining two and a half members (I'm only giving Notre Dame a half-mention because they won't join in football) so you'd think that the ACC is fine, right?
Well, in my opinion, there's a problem here. Primarily, the problem is that this could open the theoretical floodgates. There have been rumors for a long time that both Clemson and Florida State have also considered leaving for a long time. When the ACC added the new members and the schools agreed to raise the conference exit fee to $50 million dollars, I figured that had stabilized the conference, at least for the foreseeable future. I mean surely no school would give up $50 million to leave a conference with so much history, tradition and power in at least one major sport, right? Wrong. Not only did someone leave, it's Maryland, a CHARTER MEMBER,
I'm not trying to be Chicken Little here. I'm a worrywart as a general rule, and hell, it's probably bad for me to worry about something like this, especially when a lot of dominoes would need to fall for the scenario I'm worried about to come to pass. But if, somehow, the ACC falls apart ... well, we're screwed. We've talked about this before here; Wake doesn't have the profile of a school like UNC or even Duke (who is carried by their basketball program even more than Wake, but their basketball brand is legendary, much as I hate to say it). We would probably end up in a mid-major in football and the SEC in all other sports or something equally silly. Whatever the hypothetical scenario, I am disturbed if only because it would mean nothing but bad things for Wake Forest.
Maryland fans in general seem to be riding high about this move (gotta give some love to the sister blog, even as a parting gift). I am of two minds. On one hand, I feel like there's something inherently sad about a charter member of the conference leaving after all this time. There have been a lot of games played, a lot of memories created, a lot of time spent as sports brothers-in-arms, at least sometimes (ACC/Big Ten challenge, anyone?).
On the other hand, Maryland leaving also de-bloats the conference a little bit, and we're not the Big East (Rutgers is also leaving for the Big Ten, yikes). Maybe I'm just trying to make myself feel better, but part of me feels like trading Pitt, Syracuse and most of Notre Dame for Maryland, at least in today's big picture, money-driven sports climate, is a net win for the ACC.
I still don't like it, though. Call me a sap, but I like tradition. As I said, this is disquieting to me. I pray that Clemson and Florida State don't choose to leave too, because let's face it: if they do, we might be in trouble. Anyway, best of luck to Maryland in the Big Ten...except in the Challenge. And when it comes to memories, at least we'll always have this:
Fingers crossed that this isn't the first of many. See you later, Terps. It's been real.