In 2014, the Big Ten Conference added University of Maryland and Rutgers University (aka “rutger”) as its 13th and 14th members. When the expansion was announced in late 2012, many fans saw this as a money grab from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany that would get cable boxes on the East Coast.
Four years have passed since the two teams were added, and the only notable accomplishment of the expansion has been that this was a money grab from Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany that would get cable boxes on the East Coast.
In the meantime, Maryland and rutger have routinely embarrassed themselves on and off the course. The most telling of which came yesterday, when the Maryland Board of Regents voted to keep DJ Durkin as head coach, despite the toxic culture of his program that led to the death of Jordan McNair.
Let’s start with rutger. I don’t know if I need to say anything more about these guys that hasn’t been said in the past four years. They’re terrible at the major sports. They’ve embarrassingly brought down the strength of the Big Ten schedule. A few months after their Big Ten membership became official, the basketball coach was caught on video throwing basketballs and yelling homophobic slurs at players. Ex-AD Julie Hermann was routinely making shocking statements to the media and embroiled in controversy at her former schools. Ex-football coach Kyle Flood once threatened a professor if he wouldn’t change a player’s grade. The list goes on. rutger remains an easy target. We’ve already covered them extensively on this blog. Oh yeah, this happened yesterday as well. Not great, Piscataway!
Rutgers football player charged in attempted double-murder plot https://t.co/ng3oXybJKp— Keith Sargeant (@KSargeantNJ) October 30, 2018
Moving onto Maryland. Until recently, the frustration with the Terps was a little more subtle than their New Jersey counterparts. The football team employed Randy Edsall. The basketball team hasn’t reached the heights it did under Gary Williams, attendance is down after a post-B1G boost, and an FBI investigation looms over the program. At least men’s lacrosse and women’s hoops have been reliable, though.
But then there is the situation with head football coach DJ Durkin, which after months of investigations regarding McNair’s death, was seemingly resolved yesterday. The Maryland Board of Regents overruled outgoing university president Wallace Loh, who seemingly wanted Durkin fired, and reinstated Durkin as the coach, despite the release of a 200-page report that illustrated the abusive behavior of the coaching staff under his watch. After all of this, one startling fact remains: a 19 year-old student-athlete died, and the head coach has been allowed to keep his job. Unsurprisingly, Jordan McNair’s family was angry about this decision, and at least 3 players walked out of a team meeting with Durkin yesterday. Now, the university administration has received tons of criticism, and is facing backlash from Maryland lawmakers as well as UMD students, who plan to hold a rally Thursday.
Jordan McNair's father on today's news conference from Maryland's Board of Regents: "I feel like I've been punched in the stomach and someone spit in my face."— Tom Schad (@Tom_Schad) October 30, 2018
Today, I issued the following statement on the University System of Maryland Board of Regents’ announcements yesterday: pic.twitter.com/ihpoZnEp9v— Governor Larry Hogan (@GovLarryHogan) October 31, 2018
At Ohio State, a cynic could make the excuse that Urban Meyer was at least had a good win-loss record. Durkin, on the other hand, has gone 10-15 at Maryland, including a pitiful 5-13 Big Ten record, so it’s not like they are retaining a national title coach in College Park either. At this point, you also have to wonder why any parent in their right mind would send their child to play football at College Park. Ultimately, this situation proves once again that college athletes are expendable, and as long as the people with money don’t want change, then change won’t happen. (For example, Under Armour founder and UMD alum/booster Kevin Plank’s silence on all of this is deafening).
So yes, Maryland and rutger have proven to be subpar additions to the Big Ten. But unfortunately, their failures fall right into the void of leadership around the conference in the past decade. What happened for years with Jerry Sandusky at Penn State was stopped much too late. Michigan State allowed Larry Nassar free reign on its campus for years. At Michigan, Brady Hoke sent a clearly concussed quarterback back into a game, and Dave Brandon waited until 1 a.m. two days later to release any sort of statement about it. Tim Beckman and Kevin Wilson got ran out of Illinois and Indiana respectively for player abuse. At Northwestern, Chris Collins allegedly ran off a player by creating an “internship program” and turning him into a janitor. And of course, the Urban Meyer/Zach Smith fiasco, along with Ohio State’s subsequent handling of the situation, was an embarrassment as well.
With this in mind, maybe Maryland and rutger are a perfect fit for the conference.
UPDATE: Shortly after this article was published and after 24 straight hours of backlash, Maryland fired Durkin. However, righting this wrong should not change the article’s main point.