Maryland has made headlines this week, but the stories surrounding the football program have nothing to do with the team’s accomplishments on the field.
ESPN’s Brett McMurphy and Dana O’Neil reported, “The University of Maryland's Board of Regents voted Monday to accept an invitation to join the Big Ten and begin competition in the conference in the 2014-15 academic year.”
The move will benefit both Maryland and the Big Ten, but this still does not mean that the move will spark vast improvement in the quality of the Terrapins’ football program.
Rutgers will join Maryland as a new addition to the Big Ten, as noted by McMurphy and O’Neil. This will give the conference a presence on the East Cost, allowing it to gain footholds in new markets and enhance the value of its media deals.
More money is certainly a positive development for the Big Ten, and from a financial standpoint, this is an excellent move.
But Maryland is not a football powerhouse, and in many recent years, has failed to even be average.
The 2011 season was Randy Edsall’s first as head coach, and he led the team to a 2-11 record. The Terps have been marginally better this year and are currently 4-7.
However, their recent contests against No. 11 Clemson and No. 10 Florida State proved how far away the team is from competing against the nation's top teams. Maryland lost 45-10 to the Tigers and 41-14 to the Seminoles.
While the team did enjoy success at the beginning of Ralph Friedgen’s tenure, it has finished above .500 just seven times in the past 20 years.
The move to the Big Ten does come with some benefits that could help in recruiting. The increased revenue from the move will likely help the athletic department climb out of debt, as Yahoo! Sports’ Jeff Eisenberg notes.
Eisenberg adds that this would lead to the ability to make improvements to its facilities, and that, in addition to support from Under Armour CEO and Maryland alum Kevin Plank, is among the factors coaches can point to when trying to draw talent to the school.
But Plank’s involvement as a booster for Maryland athletics is nothing new, and this has not helped the football team be competitive in recent years. Ultimately, the team’s historical mediocrity will outweigh these new benefits for many of the nation's top recruits.
Both in recent years and across a longer period of time, Maryland’s football program has not shown the ability to consistently compete. While the university and Big Ten will have deeper pockets because of this move, the road forward will still be frustrating for Terrapins football fans.