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Big East is clear loser in latest reshuffling of NCAA conferences

November 19, 2012|By Chris Dufresne
  • Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova acknowledges the fans after a 10-3 victory over Cincinnati.
Rutgers quarterback Gary Nova acknowledges the fans after a 10-3 victory… (Al Behrman / Associated…)

Just when you thought conference expansion had settled down comes news of another land grab.

This one involves Maryland.

In the latest reconfiguration of the college landscape, the University of Maryland's Board of Regents voted Monday to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference and join the Big Ten in 2014.

Rutgers, according to news reports, is expected to leave the Big East for the Big Ten. That would increase the Big Ten's membership to 14 schools.

Both Maryland and Rutgers are good geographical fits for the Big Ten. Maryland believes it can negotiate down the $50-million exit fee from the ACC and the ACC may soon counter the move by raiding the Big East of Connecticut.

The clear loser here is the Big East, which has already lost Pittsburgh and Syracuse to the ACC and has scrambled to reform by expanding its footprint to outposts such as Boise State and San Diego State.

The Big East, an original automatic qualifier conference in the BCS, has already been marginalized in the new football format starting in 2014. The league will be separated from the five power conferences -- Pac 12, Big Ten, ACC, Big 12, SEC -- and left to fend in what is being called "The Group of Five."

For football, only the top-ranked team among the Big East, Sun Belt, Conference USA, Mountain West and Mid-American conferences will be guaranteed a spot in one of the six major bowls.

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