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November 19, 2012
Impact on Maryland, Rutgers could be great
Dallas Jackson is the National Columnist for Rivals.com. Email him your comments or story ideas to DallasJ@Yahoo-Inc.com and follow him on Twitter.
TerrapinTimes.com has confirmed initial reports from Brett McMurphy of ESPN that the University of Maryland's Board of Regents unanimously approved the move and that an official announcement would be made on the College Park campus Monday afternoon. ScarletNation.com has reported that Rutgers would follow suit as soon as 24 hours after Maryland.
Both schools must officially apply for Big Ten membership and need nine of the current 12 conference programs to approve admission, but the feeling is that those steps are formalities.
Maryland changing conferences will likely force the end of many long-term rivalries in football and basketball, but it will also usher in a major change to the programs' recruiting philosophy.
Dave Lomonico covers Maryland recruiting for TerrapinTimes.com, and he said that sweeping changes could be needed.
"The program has been first recruiting locally and then further south," he said. "It isn't likely that they will pull up too many posts, but they are going to have to move north to get kids that are a better fit for the Big Ten style of play."
Rivals.com Mid-Atlantic regional recruiting analyst Adam Friedman speculates that an even bigger change may be required and that head coach Randy Edsall may be on a short leash.
"Edsall has already been given a lot of leeway with the way the injuries have set this season back," Friedman said, "and there is a loud group calling for his job. Recruiting certainly has not been going the way fans want to see it go, and it is not out of the question that this could be a jumping off point to bring in a new staff and start anew."
Olney (Md.) Good Counsel head coach Bob Milloy said he is not sure if this move is in the best interest of Maryland football.
"Selfishly, I really like it," he said. "I love to watch Michigan, Michigan State, Penn State, and my wife and daughter went to Purdue, but as a coach and a parent I would be concerned. I have kids committed right now to Virginia, Virginia Tech, and Clemson, but we have sent kids to Maryland in the past (including five-star Stefon Diggs). ... Now I don't know how many parents will want to send their kids off to play football when the away games aren't easy drives to Charlottesville, Blacksburg, or Chapel Hill but Wisconsin or Minnesota. That will be a hard sell."
Rivals.com national recruiting analyst Mike Farrell says the move for Maryland was financially driven but that it could prove to be costly in the long term.
"The school has had to shut down a couple of sports programs recently, so this is a money move for them," Farrell said. "The money the Big Ten can throw at them will help upgrade facilities, and that is something they are desperately behind in.
"Where this could all backfire is that both Maryland and Rutgers are in pretty fertile recruiting areas, and while both schools will look to move into Big Ten markets, those Big Ten schools can now more easily come into New Jersey and Washington, D.C., and Baltimore and start pulling kids out."
Rivals.com Midwest regional analyst Josh Helmholdt said the two schools are going to try to break into a market that is already crowded.
"As a region, the Midwest simply does not produce as many players as the South or down the Atlantic Coast, so trying to go into Ohio and fight with Ohio State, Michigan, Michigan State, Nebraska, and some others will be tough," he said. "They are going to have to get into the area and recruit it, but it isn't like just because those schools are recruiting the area that it will start to produce more quality players. It could be tough."
Helmholdt points to the success that Nebraska has had in establishing itself as the silver lining for Maryland and Rutgers.
"It can be done," he said. "In just a short time, Nebraska has been able to dip into Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Illinois, so it can be done. In just raw numbers, it will be successful for them both because right now they aren't getting anyone."
Lomonico said the losses could outweigh the gains.
"In the long run, this can be a very good thing," he said. "Immediately, it is a real concern for recruiting. Only (Maryland assistant coach Mike) Locksley really has any ties to the new areas, and I have already talked to a couple commits that did not like the news."
Three-star defensive tackle Kingsley Opara has been the first name to surface as a potential de-commit. Opara is from Jacksonville (Fla.) Mandarin and has recently scheduled official visits to N.C. State and North Carolina.
Helmholdt said the Terps' move from their current recruiting bases may not be a long-term improvement.
"Recruiting is very much about emotions," he said. "Maybe more so than it should be, but some kids in the Virginia Beach area grow up rooting for Maryland because they see them all the time. That is going to be taken away, and this could isolate Maryland more than it helps the program."
Realigning with the Big Ten from a Rutgers perspective has been more favorably received because it will be a natural fit and a boost for exposure and recruiting.
Farrell said there is nearly no negative to the move.
"It will strengthen recruiting across the board for Rutgers," he said. "They will be able to give the local kids another reason to stay home and play. The conference is a major step up. The opponents ... (will be) a major step up. And the exposure will be a major step up.
But again it all circles back to money because those opponents, both home and away, will help fill the coffers at both programs. It is the big business that Milloy said is really running the show.
"It is so confusing who is in what conference anymore that eventually it won't matter and everyone will be recruiting everywhere," he said. "I'm old school and I like traditions, but that isn't where we are anymore."
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