The Daily Item, Sunbury, PA

November 27, 2012

Who's counting in the Big Ten?

Daily Item

---- — In the world of higher academics, there is a mind-boggling mathematical formula that goes something like this: 11 plus 1 plus 2 equals . . . 10.

The result is a Big Ten conference that -- with the addition of Rutgers and Maryland -- has 14 members. The conference's misnomer is no worse, for the record, than the Big 12, which, despite its name, has 10 members.

The PAC 12, you ask? It has 12 members because the academics out West determined that when they added two teams to the PAC 10 that it made more sense to change the name of the conference than retain an anachronistic and inaccurate moniker.

The addition of the two Mid-Atlantic universities to the Big Ten makes sense for the conference and for Penn State, specifically. The conference gets better exposure in two of the biggest media markets in New Jersey, which is actually New York and Philadelphia, and the Baltimore-Washington, D.C., area.

The move improves Penn State's fit in the Big Ten. As the 11th member of the conference, Penn State had been on the conference's eastern edge, limiting its access to obvious rivals. A border rivalry with Ohio State developed organically, thanks to a very competitive series of games since Penn State joined the conference. For Rutgers, the move to the Big Ten is an indication of how the football program has successfully transformed itself, largely under the leadership of former coach Greg Schiano, from doormat to borderline elite program. Rutgers successfully escaped from the imploding Big East by joining one of the most successful conferences in college sports.

Maryland was a charter member of the Atlantic Coast Conference, which was founded in 1953. But in an era where super-conferences are beginning to dominate collegiate sports, officials at Maryland determined that it would be better to move to the greener pastures of the expanded Big Ten.

Because of the reality of college sports finance -- football generally provides the revenue to sustain most other sports -- the hop to the Big Ten could help Maryland revive sports eliminated due to budget woes.

The expansion of the Big Ten makes sense in many ways. The name no longer does.

Surely, the best minds at 14 of the country's greatest institutions of higher learning can do better.

Why not the Bigger Ten?