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Big Ten moves should pay off big time for Maryland, Rutgers

by | Special to CBSSports.com

Maryland coach Randy Edsall plans to immediately recruit for Big Ten play. (US Presswire)  
Maryland coach Randy Edsall plans to immediately recruit for Big Ten play. (US Presswire)  

Moving to the Big Ten will mean a bigger stage and bigger dollars for Maryland and Rutgers. It might also mean a bigger opportunity to compete for top football talent.

Four- and five-star recruits have not regularly filled the rosters for the Terrapins and Scarlet Knights in their soon-to-be former conferences -- the ACC and the Big East, respectively. In Maryland's case, poor recruiting efforts have helped contribute to a lack of talent on the depth chart, resulting in fewer wins. For Rutgers, keeping elite recruits home in talent-rich New Jersey has not been easy in the Big East.

Now that the pair has joined the Big Ten, a string of quality recruiting classes could foster winning cultures.

"I see no reason why these two teams can't contend for Big Ten titles, having as much talent in those states as they have," CBS Sports recruiting expert Tom Lemming said. "When you're talking about talent in your local area -- take away Ohio State -- Maryland and Rutgers have as much, or more, talent as anybody in the Big Ten."

With New Jersey housing four recruits in Lemming's Top 100 players in the class of 2014, an elevated reputation for Rutgers could lead to instant recruiting dividends. All four of those players reportedly hold offers.

Lemming's Top 100 for 2014: New Jersey
Rnk Pos Name High School
5th CB Jabrill Peppers Paramus Catholic
72nd RB Jonathan Hilliman St. Peter's Prep
93rd DE Andrew Trumbetti Demarest
96th ATH Kiy Hester St. Joesph's

Although Maryland was already in one of the major conferences, the ACC has weakened over time. The athletic program also cut eight varsity sports to mitigate a multimillion-dollar deficit.

Because of lucrative television contracts through the Big Ten Network, Maryland could receive approximately $120 million over the next decade. For a program running at a loss, the move to the Big Ten couldn't have come at a better time.

With the influx of television revenue, Maryland could allot some of its earnings to improve athletic facilities. As a result, recruiting classes in the coming years should yield more talent. However, look for the program to instantly alter its recruiting strategy.

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"Now that it's come to being a partner and a member in 2014, we immediately start recruiting toward the Big Ten," Maryland coach Randy Edsall said. "We'll get into Ohio more, get into Detroit, Chicago, Indianapolis, St. Louis, Kansas City, those areas. I think because of the Big Ten Network, the exposure you're going get might even help us in other areas, and we can go and look at some of the kids and say, 'This is what we have to offer.'"

With National Signing Day now a little more than two months away, the class of 2013 is almost finalized. The recruiting benefits for Maryland and Rutgers resulting from the move to the Big Ten, however, could be seen as early as next season.

One asset Maryland will have to overcome is the loss of traditional rivalries nurtured over the program's time in the ACC. The conference has always held a distinctive brand of football manifested throughout Florida, the Carolinas and the Virginia Basin. Maryland, however has not been prominent in the conference recently, with only one ACC championship in the past 26 years. This contrasts with a tradition that boasted eight ACC titles between 1953-85.

"When I heard the news about the Big Ten, it was kind of shocking at first," said Andrew Issacs (Manchester, Conn.), a class of 2013 commitment to Maryland. "It's really not that big of a deal to me because I actually get to play against better competition. But at first, I was a little disappointed in it because I had my mind set on playing in the ACC. I have friends that are going to be playing in the ACC, so having a chance to play against them would've been cool. But other than that, it really wasn't that much of a big deal to me, because I committed to Maryland for the school."

Rutgers' struggles to land elite, in-state recruits due to a weakened Big East come despite being the only major college football program in New Jersey.

"Without a doubt. It's going to help Rutgers much more than Maryland," Lemming said. "Rutgers, to me, of all these schools is a sleeping giant. Being in the Big East -- the kids don't take it as seriously as they do the Big Ten. Rutgers now, being a member of the Big Ten, should be able to keep a good number of the top players at home from now on."

A spokesperson from the Rutgers athletic department indicated that coach Kyle Flood will not answer questions pertaining to the Big Ten until after the completion of this season. Whether or not Maryland or Rutgers capitalizes in recruiting from the Big Ten move remains to be seen. However, because all the new conference opponents will soon be making trips into College Park and Piscataway, there is one certain beneficiary from the addition.

"For the Big Ten, it's a win-win," Lemming said. "New Jersey and Maryland are two of the best states in the country for football talent, so that really helps them. You'll see a lot of Big Ten schools start recruit Maryland and New Jersey now."


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