Safe to say most Big Ten fans didn't see this little twist coming in the conference realignment saga, but adding Maryland and Rutgers wasn't just about adding TV money, it was about making sure Penn State didn't bolt the conference. Say what? Yes, you just read those words correctly.
On Friday Wisconsin AD Barry Alvarez was making the media rounds on the heels of becoming the interim coach and having to hire a new football head coach as well. He was also speaking to the Wisconsin athletic board and that's when he uttered the words about Maryland and Rutgers.
According to Jeff Potrykus of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel Alvarez said the following in regards to Jim Delany and his ability to think outside of the box with this move.
“If you study the demographics and take a look at where the population is, we are in the rust belt and continue to lose population.
“That northeast corridor, all the way to the south, continues to grow…Jim felt that someday, if we didn’t have anyone else in that corridor, someday it wouldn’t make sense maybe for Penn State to be in our league.
“That they would go into a league somewhere on the east coast. By doing that, it keeps us in the northeast corridor."
Still shaking your head because you thought Penn State was a rock solid member of the Big Ten. I know I was, but Alvarez does bring up a good point. If you take a look at the moves the ACC has been making it was only a matter of time before they locked down the entire Northeast corridor and if that's the case it would be incredibly difficult for Penn State to remain a member of a conference where their pool of potential players would have no allegiance or recognition of.
I mean, as a teenager you tend to follow the crowd and in the world of recruiting that's even more so the case. If all of your friends, teammates and people you've met along the way are going to schools in one conference it's difficult to not follow that kind of pull and buck the trend. It takes a special kind of player.
So, perhaps there was another reason behind this move all along for Delany. Perhaps he doesn't always add schools to his conference, but when he does... he does it on a level you and I only wish we were thinking on.
Only time will tell if the moves to add Rutgers and Maryland will pay off, but under Delany there hasn't been a move like this that's backfired. In fact they've all served to work in the conference's favor, so perhaps these moves will work even better than any of the multitude of skeptics think.