This list is completely arbitrary and not a genuine analysis of the relative merits of state fossils.
Hokepoints: Expansion Universalis, In Rapacitas
Depending on what hour you are reading this, Brian is somewhere on the Kübler-Ross chain between coming up with 20-team divisions sans Purdue, and emulating an otter. Since this thing is happening despite the sentiment expressed in our totally scientific internet poll, I thought maybe being, like, informative…?
Tell 'em what they've won, Jim:
+'s: Lacrosse power, soccer power, unique mascot, fits academic profile, unlikely to upset anyone's national title hopes.
-'s: Not a power in anything but sports nobody cares about. Almost Indiana in football. Were on their way to mid-majordom.
The School: Founded in 1856. Those who know their Morrill Act history could guess one sentence before you did that it's a land-grant school (Michigan State, Penn State). Original name: Maryland Agricultural College, later Maryland State College. They're AAU members, and about the same size as Michigan or Purdue. Academically they're solidly in the Purdue/Ohio State midpoint of the conference, although they only got super serious about being a research institution since the '60s so their endowment—$791 million—is easily last among the current conference, and only a tenth of Michigan's. They're also a system school—sharing a degree with UMD-Baltimore and an affiliation with a bunch of other in-state schools—so I don't know if the CIC plans on sharing dollars with just the flagship campus, College Park and Baltimore, or the whole system.
Important alumni: Jim Henson and Larry David. Sugar daddy: Kevin Plank of Under Amour.
Colors: Red and white or yellow and black are good enough color schemes for most corn-fed Midwesterners, but marshaling of arms in English heraldry has no concept of clashing, thus the Terps are liable to favor any of those from George Calvert in any combination. They've been known to take the field looking like an unholy abomination of leftover Iowa running back parts and Rex Burkhead, or in maroon and chrome, or lattice bodices and cloaks of animal skins.
Mascot: A terrapin, or "terp" for short. It means turtle.
Athletics: Here's a guy answering my query on their SBNation blog:
Basketball school (right now like 80-20, but when we rebound in fball it’s more like 60-40). We hate Duke as much as you hate anything in your life. If something big happens we riot. A great deal of our fanbase already hates PSU, so yea, we can hate them for ya.
Really good at Msoccer (good womens), great at lax and field hockey. Womens basketball too
We don’t dress funny, you just dress like some 80 year old man with a hideous fashion sense and call it tradition.
Our college Bball atmosphere is way better than fball, but we do have Stefon Diggs who is likely god himself
Emphasis on the hating Duke. In re lacrosse: the ACC's deal
was similar to the Big East's, where they belonged to other conferences but the few schools who had programs played each other [EDIT: they had a conference, but didn't send a champion]. They're immediately the best lacrosse school in the conference. Women's lacrosse is probably the best in the country.
[JUMP: Meet Maryland athletics, and Rutgers]
The football team wins a 5-star—most recently Diggs—from being the nearest thing with a pulse to the D.C. area. Like MSU, they can go into ugly dry spells when nobody cares, or hit upon a few hometown athletes they can ride to mild relevance. Unlike MSU they don't have a strong football rival (Virginia is the closest thing to that) to provide motivation, so the lows are lower and last longer. The stadium was last expanded in 2008 to about 54,000, putting it around Indiana-Northwestern size. It's named for for Curley Byrd, who's like their Fielding Yost and James Burrill Angell rolled into one—Bear Bryant was from Byrd's coaching tree. It was grass until this year. Some bank bought the naming rights but fortunately nobody's sure which one.
Basketball is their thing, though in this their tradition far outweighs the level of performance. Their coach began Midnight Madness in '71, but the program spent most of its relevant history as the fifth member of the ACC's "Big Four." They've been to two Final Fours and won once. After that they built the current stadium. Get your gag reflexes under control BTN viewers: it's called the Comcast Center. Their fans seem to be okay with this—they're well aware the cash-strapped school needs the dough—and embrace their association with Worst Company Ever by trying to cast themselves as the most hated fans in hoops. The stadium puts the students in the first 10 rows and also gives the coeds their own side of the building, "the Wall," so named for the seats being set at a sharp incline. It's a bitch to play there.
No hockey team. For a sub Mason-Dixon school you'd think baseball might be a sticking point but fortunately they are terrible, last appearing in the NCAA tournament in 1971.
Natural Bo Division Rival: MSU. They tried manufacturing the Land Grant Trophy thing when Penn State joined, but this one is much closer. Like another institution formerly known as "MAC" they're basketball-first. They also have an intense rivalry with a school that needs to be regularly reminded they're hated.
Why they came: Spent themselves into massive debt trying to keep up with the revenue sport Joneses. Because of this they recently cut CC, indoor track, swimming and diving, men's tennis, acrobatics and tumbling, and women's water polo; men's track was barely saved by raising extra funds.
If they were a South Park character: Kenny McCormick. Kenny is dirty, poor, and will do anything for money. Embraces the dirty kid role, and loves poop jokes.
Outlook as Big Ten team: Just what this conference needed: another Michigan State.
A Jersey thing. Avalon Sunset
+'s: Lacrosse power, unique mascot, fits academic profile, unlikely to upset anyone's national title hopes.
-'s: Not a power in anything but lacrosse. Basically a MAC school except spent its way into horrible debt trying not to be a MAC school, and isn't in the Midwest
The School: They claim it was founded in 1766 as Queen's College, meaning Michigan is no longer the oldest school in the Big Ten by over 50 years. However that school's classes were taught in taverns and people's homes, and after failing to merge with Princeton it closed. The thing was "reopened" in 1825 and named after war hero Henry Rutgers, so if you use that date then we and Indiana get to keep our elders status. They too are AAU members, and huge, like Minnesota or Ohio State size in enrollment. Rankings-wise they're right in the middle of that indiscernible pile of Minnesota, Purdue, Iowa and Michigan State that makes up the conference's bottom third.
Important alumni: James Gandolfini, NBA commissioner David Stern. Kinda sugar daddy (funds Olympic sports): Bernard Marcus, the founder of Home Depot.
Colors: Officially: just scarlet. Unofficially: black because it's a neutral tone and slimming, and spray tan.
Fight song-like substance I'm pretty sure was written by somebody's dog: R U RAH RAH R U RAH RAH WHOO RAAH R U RAH WHOO RED TEAM UPSTREAM WOO RAH HAH RAH ROOO! The alma mater is called "On the banks…" that they trope like we roll out the Bo quotes; State's not gonna be amused.
Mascot: A scarlet knight. (via Chris Creamer--->)
Athletics: Here's a Rutgers blogger:
No one is suggesting that Rutgers will be a world beater in the Big Ten, but there's no reason why they can't settle in a Michigan State/Iowa/Northwestern-style 8-4 in perpetuity until the end of time. The Big East has struggled in football, so has the Big Ten, there's no reason that we can't beat up on Illinois, Purdue, Indiana, Minnesota, etc... just like everyone else does. Adding Rutgers increases the average quality of conference play. Plus, we'll be able to make a lot of jokes about meth and corn and loving foreign cars in the process when those lugheads can't shut up about guidos, it's going to be awesome.
In recruiting, Michael "The Situation" Sorrentino, once thought a mortal lock at MSU, announced he has a new leader.
Unless the Big Ten really doesn't care if we see each other more than once or twice a decade (not a given), they're going to 9 conference games. Averaging 8-4 over seven seasons means losing 28 games or less, and 27 of those games are guaranteed to be against Ohio State, Penn State, Wisconsin, Michigan and Nebraska. They're not that.
What they are is one of the first schools to compete in athletics, along with what became the Ivy League. The oft-repeated history of Rutgers is they won the very first collegiate football game over Princeton by a score of 6 runs to 4, and not another one since. They were a longtime independent until everyone not named Notre Dame had to get into a conference TV contract and the Big East was the only one willing to take them. There's been a focal group of faculty and folk called the Rutgers 1000 since then who've been pushing to downgrade to I-AA. Men's crew (the more missed), swimming and diving, tennis, and fencing (m's & w's) were cut since the debts accrued.
Rutgers Stadium has a corporate name with the word "Solutions" in it, and a capacity of 52,454—again, very small for Big Ten—that filled as the Schiano era improved the state of things, but there's still just two sell-outs on record. Like Maryland, a recent expansion of the stadium has put them in massive debt. They fire a cannon when they score. I was there before the renovation, but the environs are a river, a golf course and open fields and forests, and made me think of what Yost-era Michigan was like.
For most of the last century, they've been right around the line of demarcation between I-A and I-AA. Then in 2006 they were among that mess of Big East teams who didn't play any ranked teams but each other, ending the season 11-2 and 12th in the AP poll—the greatest season of Rutgers football ever. On the upside, the soft Big East has made for a long bowl eligibility streak. This year they're 9-1 and 5-0 in the Big East with a win at Arkansas, which sounds impressive if you haven't seen John L. Smith's Arkansas. The other wins are Tulane, Howard, USF, UConn, Cuse, Temple, Army and Cincy; the loss is to Kent State. They'll play their first ranked opponent when they visit Louisville a week after Thanksgiving.
Unlike Maryland, they can't really say they've still got hoops. Their one Final Four appearance was in 1976 (lost to Michigan) and their last NCAA tournament appearance was in 1991. Their last 20-win team lost to Michigan in the 2004 NIT Final. They call their court "The RAC" which stands for "Louis Brown Athletic Center," and the sharp incline on three sides makes it Yost Ice Arena-cozy and louder than an 8,000 capacity building in Jersey should be.
Hockey is a couple of club teams. Lacrosse is a mid-level power; we were one of their wins in a 6-9 campaign last year.
Natural Bo Division Rival: Northwestern. It's the Midwest Ivy versus the Northeastern school that chose not to be an Ivy. All Northwestern fans live in New York. And just imagine the dismay when the purple-clad Wildcats a-come-on to Piscataway, N.J., expectant of finally finding a chum of similar intellectual accomplishment, only to be asked "d'you wanna go clubbin' or just smush?"
Why they came: To show all of 'em! They said we couldn't build a big state school on the East Coast! They said we couldn't interest New Yorkers in college football! They said our hair couldn't fit in a helmet with all of that gel. They said if you started your college in the 1760s you had to become a Top 50 academic institution. We showed them!
If they were a South Park character: Pip Pirrup. Kinda British, awkward, picked on and largely disliked, yet manages to hang on anyway. Looks like someone who'd be a good student but only gets B's. Arrives believing he can be a main character yet is immediately put in his place.
Outlook as Big Ten team: Indiana in football, Northwestern in basketball, Jersey Shore in everything else: