The expansion of the Big Ten has sent ripples throughout the conference, and plenty of coaches have questions that may take a while to answer.
What will it do to schedules? How will it impact recruiting? Will the additions help or hurt their program?
What is clear is that the coaches understand the financial need to add Maryland and Rutgers to the conference. The Terrapin programs will join for the 2014-15 school year, while it has not yet been determined when the Scarlet Knights will hop on board.
The coaches certainly know this is about money, and while some parts of the deals may not be the best for some programs, they see the bigger picture that this will help keep their programs stable.
The important thing across the country is to have the finances to keep a program alive, Penn State mens soccer coach Bob Warming said. With so many athletic programs across the country struggling financially, the genius of what has happened with the Big Ten and the TV network is unlike anything else in the history of collegiate athletics. If this continues to help us financially and to market our sports to an enormous new mark, it again genius. You need a bottom line that works.
Penn State and its fans are big beneficiaries in terms of travel and two added natural rivals.
Some sports also gain some pretty strong competition. Both new schools have had strong soccer and basketball programs for both men and women and Maryland is especially tough in those sports. The Terrapin mens and womens basketball teams have each won national titles in the last decade, and the mens soccer team earned NCAA titles in 2005 and 08.
Maryland has been the benchmark in college soccer, said Warming, who also will be coaching against one of this former assistant coaches when they meet Rutgers. Theyve been one of the nations leaders in attendance, and the passion and enthusiasm there for soccer unlike almost any place in the country.
The Big Ten has perennially been one of the top conferences in basketball, but womens coach Coquese Washington is looking forward to the new challenges that come with two very successful coaches in Brenda Freese with the Terps and C. Vivian Stringer with the Scarlet Knights.
From a womens basketball perspective, the Big Ten just got tougher, Washington said. Rutgers and Maryland are two of the nations best programs year in and year out, they have top-25 caliber talent on their teams every year and two outstanding coaches. I think its definitely a plus for womens basketball to have them in the conference and adds prestige to our conference from a womens basketball perspective with Rutgers and Maryland competing in our conference.
Another sport that just got really strong field hockey. Maryland has won 5 of the last 8 national championships, and has gotten in Penn States way a few times along the way.
Now comes the hard part: Figuring out how, when and where everyone gets to play their games.
Through the prism of football, everyone playing everyone is mathematically impossible with 14 teams and 12 games, but how will it work in other sports? For field hockey and soccer, there likely wont be a great impact since everyone plays everyone just once. But what about spring sports like baseball and softball, since there are only so many available playing weekends while dealing with sketchy spring weather.
And in sports like volleyball and basketball, which have everyone playing everyone at least once and in many cases twice, how will that shake up their seasons?
It should force the Big Ten to reevaluate how we do scheduling in all sports, womens volleyball coach Russ Rose said. Were one of the sports, until Nebraska was added, we played a double-round robin. This is the second year of an uneven schedule. Were not going to use all 28 of our playing dates to play a double round-robin. I dont have any idea what it means. It will be nice to have a couple shorter trips, but I dont know if I want to be sitting on a bus for five hours in bad weather.
While Roses program is on a different level than nearly any other volleyball program in the East, most of the other sports may face a slightly tougher job recruiting athletes from the New York-New Jersey and Maryland-Delaware-Northern Virginia areas. The selling point of getting on national TV and playing in the Big Ten can now be used by the newest conference members.
Washington is still seeing the upside to recruiting in those areas.
We recruited against Maryland and Rutgers to some degree based on their location, said Washington, who landed two women on National Signing Day last week from Maryland. We recruit on the East Coast. Were in battles with Rutgers and Maryland all the time, so for us, I dont know if its going to be dramatically different than what it is. I think its going to be good. It will give us even more of an opportunity to recruit in those areas. We already do a pretty good job of getting kids. We have two kids coming in next year from Maryland, both from Baltimore. I think its going to be a positive.
With the growth of the Big Ten, and the apparent trend toward super conferences dominating the college sports landscape somewhere down the road, Rose couldnt help but point out somebody else had that kind of idea a few decades ago before Penn State eventually joined the Big Ten.
Im sure somebody did a lot of number-crunching, Rose said. Otherwise it would have happened 20 years ago when Coach Paterno wanted the All-East conference. Not that football and basketball wasnt important then, but it may in the end prove that Joe knew what he was talking about.