Today is conference realignment day, which means the Big Ten’s additions of Maryland and Rutgers is now official. The Big Ten is now a 14-school conference and the divisions have been reorganized. For Penn State, Maryland and Rutgers should make for plenty of regional battles for years to come and it should be a lot of fun getting reacquainted with some past regional rivals. It may not be Pittsburgh or Syracuse, but it’s something.
This is the second expansion for the Big Ten in four years (Nebraska in 2011) and it is now 21 years since Penn State joined the Big Ten (still love this logo). As someone who has been following the Big Ten for just over two decades now, I wanted to be sure to share some words of (possible) wisdom to fans of Rutgers and Maryland on this monumental day for their respective programs.
So, what should Maryland and Rutgers fans know?
1. The Big Ten is Ohio State and Michigan’s playground, but they will sometimes allow others to use the monkeybars. For as long as I have been following the Big Ten, Ohio State and/or Michigan have pretty much been the big horses in the mix on a regular basis. That will continue to be the case, but as we have seen in recent years it is possible for others to have their fun as well.
Penn State has won three Big Ten titles since joining the conference in 1993. If Rutgers and Maryland combine for that many in the next 21 years I will be surprised, but it is something to root for.
2. You may have some nice TV markets to brag about, but that’s not going to impress anyone in the Big Ten, so keep that to yourself. It is obvious the Big Ten added Rutgers and Maryland for the TV markets and little else. If the conference had to expand, Syracuse and Pittsburgh would have been my choices, but those two got away to the ACC. Rutgers fans should know that we all recognize that one Thursday night against Louisville all those years ago, but that is almost an ancient memory now.[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0eV4No5wvHY]
3. Penn State is not your rival yet, but let’s make it happen. The first school fans of Rutgers have set sights on is, of course, Penn State. It makes sense. Penn State and Rutgers share a border and the regional aspect of it makes for a natural rivalry. The same goes for Maryland. Unfortunately the history is not on the side of Rutgers or Maryland when it comes to Penn State, with the Nittany Lions owning an al-time record of 57-3-1 against the new Big Ten members. But history is history. It has been far too long since Penn State tangled with either program and now they will be playing every year. I suspect Penn State will tend to have the upper hand more often than not, but let’s let these rivalries become a real thing to get excited about. Penn State needs Maryland and Rutgers to challenge them, and all three will be better for it.
I for one look forward to meaningful and competitive games with Maryland and Rutgers.
4. You are going to have to step your shirt game, at least you Maryland.
The first official piece of Maryland @bigtenconf apparel presented to @kbaterp and Commissioner Jim Delany! pic.twitter.com/zHpA2Nul6X
— Maryland Athletics (@umterps) June 30, 2014
That is atrocious.
5. There are going to be some critics of your flashy uniforms that change by the week. I will criticize some, but overall just remember that even Ohio State and Michigan like to pull some twists with uniforms. The most Penn State does is add names of the back of the jerseys, so feel free to take notes. Stay away from Scrabble letters though and you will be OK.
For the record, I have come to really like Maryland’s uniforms and the Rutgers uniforms generally get praise from me unless they suit up in all black (here is what I wrote in 2012).
6. Last but not least, don’t do anything to bring shame on the entire conference. It’s not good. Hopefully all of the bad skeletons have been taken out of the closet by now. Now go enjoy your new conference home. It can be rough at times, but it’s not as bad as some make it out to be at times.