Realignment Armageddon: Happening!

The Big Ten has announced that Maryland will be joining the conference for the 2014-15 academic year, and the popular pick for a 14th(!) school in the league is Rutgers.

While this is an unmitigated disaster for the Big Ten as a football conference, it’s a huge boost to money – which, as we’ve seen, is the one and only consideration when realignment is on the table – and, incidentally, lacrosse.

On the women’s side, adding Maryland makes for five programs in the sport – Northwestern, Michigan, Ohio State, Penn State, and now the Terps. On the men’s side, it’s up to four (no Northwestern). Assuming Rutgers is indeed the next school to announce its acceptance into the Big Ten, that’s six women’s programs, and five for the men.

That means the women have enough teams to form an NCAA automatic bid conference, obviously a boost to lacrosse in the region should the Big Ten choose to go that route. On the men’s side, however, things are even more exciting. With five programs, the league is one short of the minimum for an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. The incentive for a Michigan State or Minnesota to add a program is suddenly boosted to levels that seem to make the move for at least one of them an inevitably (though perhaps not a short-term one).

While lacrosse certainly wasn’t on the minds of Big Ten athletic directors when they decided to reach for a few more bucks here and there, the benefits – both from a standpoint of individual schools having the money to add a program and a competitive incentive to do so – could mean a boost for the Midwest.

I’ve been planning for a while to write about about expansion/realignment/etc. Obviously when this news first started coming out, I hit the brakes on that to see what would shake out. I should have something on the topic in the coming days. Cliff Notes version: sayonara, Big East Lacrosse.

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10 Responses to Realignment Armageddon: Happening!

  1. CKLaxalum says:

    The annual Rutgers game will be a drag on Michigan’s lacrosse schedule.

    • Tim says:

      I think Michigan’s still a few years off from needing to worry about strength of schedule on the lacrosse field (not that they aren’t already playing a damn tough schedule despite the program’s youth).

  2. CKLaxalum says:

    I wasn’t thinking so much about SOS, rather, “the Rutgers spot” takes away from rotating another (“big name”) non-conference opponent onto the schedule. Although Michigan and Rutgers wouldn’t be required to play every year, like PSU, it would be a Big Ten “traditional” rival, and thus a likely annual game. An annual game against Maryland is different, given the Terps stature, as well the exposure in the state of Maryland would be good for Michigan.

    • Jason says:

      We might pick up Rutgers, who you aren’t enthusiastic about, but until we get a Big Ten lacrosse conference with auto bid, I don’t think it’s guaranteed we play Rutgers every year. And when we do get a Big Ten lacrosse conference, that means we would lose other games like Bellarmine, Air Force, etc. So not such a big deal.

      • Tim says:

        There is no way that Michigan wouldn’t play every Big Ten team, even if they’re mostly non-conference games. Just wouldn’t happen. Now, it’s also possible (if unlikely) that there’s a Big Ten Lacrosse Conference by the time that Rutgers and Maryland join the league, but even if that’s not the case, U-M isn’t going to not play all the Big Ten teams.

    • WolvinLA says:

      Rutgers isn’t a terrible lax opponent, and it’s not like they’ll replace our heavy hitters on our schedule anyway. Next year we’ll play Rutgers in place of High Point or St. Joes or Delaware or something like that. And Maryland’s a great team, so adding both of them is a boost no matter who they replace.

  3. Clark Bell says:

    Does this help recruiting? Does the inclusion of the B1G of Maryland give the whole conference more panache? If I go to a B1G school now I am guaranteed to play Maryland every year. Does having BTN show lax games in the Eastern markets make it more appealing to the kids out there?

    • WolvinLA says:

      I think the BTN part will be a huge draw. Let’s say a kid is deciding between Michigan and a few schools like Denver, Princeton and Hofstra. Knowing that your parents, friends from home, and a bunch of people across the country will be ale to watch probably half of your games on TV is a huge deal. Your girlfriend at school will be able to watch your big away games on TV. That’s a product that even many of the top programs can’t offer.

      • Tim says:

        Thus far, BTN has aired pretty much squat in terms of lacrosse. I have no idea why the Michigan-Penn State and Ohio State-Penn State games weren’t on the network.

        Hopefully that changes going forward (as happy as I am to see Purdue Campus Programming aired on repeat throughout the spring).

  4. DCLaxFan says:

    Let me give the perspective of someone who lives in Maryland, just outside of DC. This will be a HUGE boost to UM lax. High school kids in Maryland and New Jersey (two of the most prolific recruiting states in lacrosse) will be exposed to the BIG in every sport, as well as the Big Ten Network. Plus, they will have the chance to play in their home area several times during their college career. Also, high schoolers in MD and NJ will have more opportunity to see UM lax games, which is a powerful recruiting improvement. Finally, UM is (and still will be after expansion) by far the best academic school in the BIG that plays men’s lacrosse. Private schools and top public schools in MD and NJ provide many of the nation’s top recruits. Now that this will be BIG territory, UM should be able to capitalize.

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