How the Latest Round of Conference Realignment is a Mirror of Back to the Future


If you are a fan of bad 1980s movies like I am, you have watched the Back to the Future trilogy countless times. You fell in love with the idea of a DeLorean that could transport you to anytime in history by simply accelerating the engine to 88 mph. I know there was a time in my life when I wish that Back to the Future was real so I could get my hands on that DeLorean.

As I watched the headlines today, the little kid inside of me saw a glimmer of hope. Could it be, Back to the Future was happening? Well, not exactly, but the recent conference realignment rumors have certainly followed the script of the famous movie.

Today, rumors surfaced in reliable media sources that the University of Maryland was in discussions to become the 13th member of the Big 10 (making the misnomer even more farcical).

The announcement makes it apparent that the Big 10 and Commissioner Jim Delaney are not done in their pursuit of Notre Dame. Let’s be honest, that is the major motivation behind this move. Obviously the Big 10 sees the value of adding Maryland for television revenue, but UMD’s value pails in comparison to the value of Notre Dame.

When the first batch of conference realignment was fired up, the Big Ten made strong overtures to Notre Dame about joining their conference. Enter Jim Delaney in the role of Biff Tannen and Notre Dame AD John Swarbrick as Lorraine Baines.

Ultimately, Swarbrick would turn down Delaney just as Lorraine rebuffed Biff at the ice cream parlor. Without knowing it yet, Swarbrick was unaware at that time of just how strongly the ACC Commissioner John Swofford pined for his golden dome. We now cast Swofford in the role of George McFly.

After Biff was left with a car full of manure after his failed wooing of Lorraine, Biff would vow to have Lorraine no matter the cost. Jim Delaney has been just as adamant in his pursuit of Jack Swarbrick and Notre Dame.

Now that Notre Dame has officially joined the ACC for all sports and committed to playing half an ACC schedule, it appears as if Jim Delaney and the Big 10 are out to destabilize Notre Dame’s new conference home. Just as Biff tried to corner Lorraine in the car outside of the Enchantment Under the Sea dance, Delaney is attempting to corner Swarbrick and force Notre Dame into becoming his.

If Maryland should leave the ACC after nearly 60 years, it would re-open questions of the ACC’s stability. Maryland’s departure would give schools like Florida State and Clemson the opportunity to take a second look at joining the Big XII. Surely those kind of defections would make the Irish contemplate the Big 10’s offer a little more seriously.

What remains to be seen is whether George McFly (John Swofford) will show up to rescue Lorraine (Jack Swarbrick) from the powerful meat-hooks of Biff (Jim Delaney). Tense times for the ACC in the climax of the movie.

This is your chance Swofford, to save Marty and the kids! If not, Marty (as Florida State) might choose to head to the West (Big XII).