1. Geography does not matter anymore.
2. The coasts have all the power. The midwest is a shrinking demographic and as the industrial base eventually erodes, the B1G is chasing the engines of the current economy - NY/NJ (and all of the money that trickles down from Wall Street) and DC (and all of the largesse of the federal government). [Note: I live in the NYC metro area and there are lots of Michigan alums here (with disposable income) chomping at the bit to see Michigan games w/in 2-3 hours travel time.]
3. B1G is NOT an elite academic conference. With all due respect to Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana (limited only to the Kelley School of Business), the rest of the B1G is a mediocre academic conference. Maryland and Rutgers fit right in - i.e., they are mediocre state schools (or slightly worse, since they are in states that only respect private universities).
[EDIT ON 3: I think all I really meant to say here was that Maryland and Rutgers are really no worse than the bulk of the B1G (excluding, Michigan, Northwestern and Indiana (which, in my humble opinion, are much better academic schools than the average B1G school)).]
4. CONSOLIDATION. Just like in any other industry, consolidation brings strength and economies of scale via creative destruction. TV networks want to sign deals with a few powerhouse conference "brands". If you're in one of these new "brands", you are relevant; if not, then you might as well be DII or DIII.
5. The future is nothing like the past. Those who can cherish the past, but accept the future are the happiest folks of all. This applies to any change, whether it be changes to athletic conferences, job changes or national/international changes.
[PERSONAL NOTE: I just got power back a few days ago!!! Hurricane Sandy was awful(I will post pictures when I have some time). I missed a few football/basketball games w/o tv, but I'm thankful for MGoBlog because I was able to check in from time to time to watch highlights of the games. Thanks all!]