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Big Ten only worried about growth national product

FILE - This June 26 2012 file phoshows Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany speaking during mediavailability after BCS presidential oversight

FILE - This June 26, 2012 file photo shows Big Ten Commissioner Jim Delany speaking during a media availability after a BCS presidential oversight committee meeting in Washington. Maryland is set to announce it is joining the Big Ten. The Big Ten Network tweeted that it will cover the school's news conference Monday afternoon, Nov. 19, 2012, to announce Maryland's decision to leave the Atlantic Coast Conference. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

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Updated: December 21, 2012 6:17AM

I gave up on tradition in sports a long time ago. I’d suggest you do the same to save yourself from tearing up at embarrassing moments.

If you’re the sentimental type, walking through the golf section at Sports Authority can make you think of the late, great Western Open. Just looking at a can of beer can bring on memories of old Comiskey Park.

But put on the armor of pragmatism, and you don’t care about a bulldozed Wrigley Field if it helps bring a World Series to the North Side.

The Big Ten is expected to grow to 14 schools by adding Maryland and Rutgers, a development with all the romanticism of a tree stump. The two universities have about as much to do with the Midwest as a nor’easter does.

But this is about progress and money, and you know what happens when the path of the proposed highway runs through your home. You better take the cash and get out of the way.

The Big Ten is smart enough to realize that college football is organizing itself into a group of super conferences and one Notre Dame. Miss out, and miss millions and millions of dollars in TV money.

The new additions will give the conference an East Coast presence, which is to say they offer the possibility of more TV viewers. Rutgers is in the New York market. Maryland gives the conference Baltimore and Washington.

From the vantage point of Chicago and tradition, it’s hard to see what Rutgers does for the Big Ten. Is there such a thing as a Scarlet Knights Nation? If so, does anybody care? Adding Nebraska and Penn State, traditional football powers, was a fairly easy sell to Big Ten traditionalists. The newest arrivals won’t have nearly the same attraction.

But, again, who cares about tradition?

Because of free agency, professional sports aren’t what they used to be. If you’re a White Sox fan, and you give your heart to Player A, well, you’re a fool; Player A is likely to take his bat and your heart to City B next year. Most fans have learned to adapt. They’ll hug Player B with all their might but know he’s just on loan. Jerry Seinfeld says we don’t cheer for players anymore, we cheer for laundry. He’s right.

The phenomenon of schools switching conferences is free agency at work, as well. Don’t be surprised if there’s more to come for the Big Ten. Adding these two universities gives the conference a beachhead in recruiting in ACC territory. To get to 16 teams, it could look south and west.

In the meantime, we watch this new world spinning and try to avoid vertigo. A school from New Jersey in the Big Ten? Really?

Oh, well. That’s how progress works. Maybe Springsteen will come to a Rutgers-Northwestern game in Evanston.

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