What Big Ten Expansion means for Wisconsin Badgers Football


Unless you live in some vacuum without sports media, you’ve probably heard that Maryland joined the Big Ten Conference on Monday and Rutgers will soon join too.

We’ve heard all about what it means to Maryland, Rutgers and the Big Ten, but what does it exactly mean for the Wisconsin Badgers?

The simple answer is that there’s advantages and disadvantages, but let’s delve a little deeper in to the ramifications.

1.) Leaders Division Realignment

First off, let’s pray to the football gods that the Big Ten has enough sense to change the ridiculous names of the divisions. Leaders and Legends are nothing alike and it’s been a total joke since last season. Anyways, Maryland and Rutgers will be joining the Leaders division and Illinois will leave for the Legends division.

In this regards, the Badgers kind of got the short stick. They’re  geographically located on the western half of the conference, but get stuck with the eastern-heavy portion. In the short-term, Wisconsin will have historically meaningless games with Rutgers and Maryland every year while the newcomers enjoy their tailor-made rivalry with Penn State.

This means that the Badgers will play Indiana, Purdue, Penn State, Ohio State, Rutgers and Maryland every year. Then Minnesota for the protected rivalry and one of the other six opponents each year. Playing Iowa and Illinois every six years seems ludicrous to me.

2.) Competitive Balance

This is where the Badgers really benefit from the expansion. Though Rutgers is having a good year,  they aren’t considered a powerhouse by any means. Maryland is probably equivalent to a Iowa, but they aren’t going to be a team threatening to win the division each and every year. With Penn State’s set-back, the Badgers only legitimate competition every year is Ohio State. If you thought Bret Bielema and Urban Meyer hated one another now, just wait five years down the road.

3.) Recruiting

I’m on the fence on this because I believe it’s a double-edged sword. Yes, the Badgers are going to have more exposure in east coast markets and therefore catch the eyes of more recruits. But don’t tell me that kids in those markets won’t find Rutgers and Maryland much more appealing now as well. With the Badgers extreme success over the past decade, I don’t think they had problems being recognized on the east coast. Thus, I’m inclined to feel that the Badgers are taking a slight hit in recruiting.

4.) Conclusion

I think this is good for the conference twenty or thirty years down the road, especially if they add even more teams. However, in the short-term, the Badgers were robbed of some traditional rivalries with geographically relevant opponents. It’s all fine and dandy that the alumni can attend games on the east coast, but fans in Wisconsin probably won’t be happy to make the trip instead of their short drives to Evanston, Iowa City or Champaign.

What did you think of the addition of Maryland and Rutgers to the Big Ten? Let me know by commenting below.

Nick Grays is a senior writer at the Sports Bank where he covers the Wisconsin Badgers and Green Bay Packers. He also enjoys to share Fantasy Advice and pretend to be a Golf expert from time-to-time. Follow him on Twitter by clicking here or visit his blog Nick Knows Best. If social media is not your thing, shoot him an email at grays@uwalumni.com.


  1. Good article. I don’t think we can call it the big ten anymore. At least I’m going to call it the big ten*

  2. gil werhane says

    Why not put all the teams with red as a school school color in one division? Makes about as much sense. Look for NotreDame to back out of the ACC agreement and join the Big1G with another school. Notre Dame’s prima donna status needs to be removed. Their football half move to the ACC has provided them a guaranteed 5 division one games on their schedule with some middle of the road teams.

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