The case for Rutgers

Submitted by WolvinLA2 on November 18th, 2012 at 6:47 PM

Although I certainly haven't read every comment on the board the last 48 hours regarding expansion, I have read a number of comments expressing displeasure for Rutgers, a setiment I originally shared.  However, the devil's advocate in me got thinking of the counter argument, and after a little research, I have changed my own mind.  Rutgers certainly isn't the slam dunk that Nebraska was, but if the conference is set on expansion (as most of them are), then we could do worse than Rutgers (and maybe not a lot better).  Let's start with the numbers:

Rutgers is a huge school.  42,327 undergrads and 14,541 grad students, for a total student body of 56,868.  This makes it the 5th largest school in the country, larger than all Big Ten schools outside of OSU.  That fits the Big Ten mold of "huge, state school" and means that Rutgers is pumping out alumni at a rate matched by few.  The state of New Jersey has a population of 8.8 million people, which obviously excludes nearby NYC and Philadephia.  The number of people within a decent drive of Rutgers is greater than nearly all (if not all) D1 football programs. 

One of the gripes about Rutgers is that their football attendance is low.  At 43,761 in 2011, that's above both NW and Indiana, and a few thousand below Illinois and Minnesota.  To compare them to other prospective programs, Maryland is 42,355, Syracuse is 40,504 and GT is 48,232.  Their attendance isn't crazy low, but would almost certainly be much higher if they moved to the Big Ten.  In 2011, Rutgers had 7 home games, only WVU Pitt were decent draws, and every other home game was against a team you'd expect a poor draw from (Army, Navy, Ohio U, North Carolina Central, USF and Cincinnati).  Even the decent teams on that list don't travel well.  The Big Ten has the benefit of playing teams who bring fans to the stadium, something Rutgers would experience in a big way.  Not only would a Big Ten schedule be more appealing to Rutgers fans, but it would bring opposing fans that weren't there in the Big East. 

In terms of football quality, Rutgers isn't as bad as is being purported.  To start, Rutgers is currently ranked #19 and #21 in the two polls, ahead of all but 3 Big Ten teams.  They've had an easy schedule, but they won at Arkansas and at Cincinnati, and beat Syracuse at home.  The last 6 years they've finished 9-4, 4-8, 9-4, 8-5, 8-5 and 11-2.  They went to five bowls and won all five. 

For the future, Rutgers has promise as well.  NJ is becoming a hot bed for football recruiting, and Rutgers has been cashing in on that.  Over the last 3 years, Rutgers has finished 64th, 32nd and 24th in the Rivals team rankings.  The 24th in 2012 was behind only M and OSU among Big Ten teams despite only having 19 commits.  That class included a 5 star and 4 four star recruits.  Rutgers already has 17 commits for 2013. 

In basketball, Rutgers is certainly no powerhouse, and typically finishes around .500 for the season.  The Big East is a very difficult basketball conference, so that won't improve in the Big Ten.  They'd be a Penn State/Northwestern/Nebraska type team who will steal some games but not many.  Where they would make up for this is in lacrosse.  I think lacrosse will be the third revenue sport in the NCAA, and Rutgers has an established but not elite lacrosse program.  The real benefit here is that if the Big Ten added two lacrosse programs (with Maryland, for example) they could be playing Big Ten lacrosse almost right away, growing TV dollars and enabling Big Ten schools to play regularly in lax hotbed states.  There is very little live sports on BTN in the spring, and having 5 Big Ten lacrosse teams would be a boon for BTN coverage and certainly $$$ moving forward.  Having a Big Ten lacrosse league will also encourage other Big Ten schools to add lacrosse as a D1 sport, which could be a semi-major revenue earner for the conference within a decade from now. 

In the end, I don't think there is another ND out there that would be a slam dunk addition to the league.  If expansion is necessary or desired, than I think Rutgers would make a quality choice.

Comments

hart20

November 18th, 2012 at 7:14 PM ^

programs, but off the top of my head:

Virginia

-Great academics

-Access to recruting grounds

-DC market?

-Teams are just as good as Maryland and Rutgers

-Cultural fit

Va Tech

-Pretty good sports teams

-Decent academics

-Access to recruiting grounds

-DC market?

-Cultural fit

Mizzou

-Access to recruiting grounds

-Cultural fit

-Good sports teams

-St. Louis market

Vanderbilt

-Great academics

-Cultural fit?

-Nashville market

-Recruiting grounds

-Looks like their football team may be decent in a few years

 

Rutgers and Marylands are hardly cultural fits and bring almost nothing on the field. They do bring a big TV market and access to recruting grounds though. 

 

WolvinLA2

November 18th, 2012 at 7:27 PM ^

Virginia is a name, but they don't have a big fan base, don't have good football or basketball, and probably have less of the DC market than Maryland does. And VT is the second fiddle to Virginia, despite having better football, at least lately.

Recruiting in Missouri isn't that great, and we already recruit well there anyway. The St Louis market is smallish, and we already have a chunk of it with Illinois. Vandy is interesting, but that wouldn't do much for recruiting and Nashville is also not a great market to pick up. Especially since most of that market is UT anyway.

Of that list I like Virginia the most, but I'd put them equal to Maryland, not above.

tasnyder01

November 18th, 2012 at 9:27 PM ^

I used to live in Virginia, outside of DC, when I was in high school. VT has a bigger market in the DC area than Virginia, but neither team has much of one. People in DC usually watch the redskins lose, and are content with that.  As for culture, VT is more of a "hick" school from what I've seen of their fan base, and I firmly believe in the michigan arrogance, so not really a fit for us or NW, more culturally aclimated to our notions of the "stoopid OSU fan". Also, VT is a very good engineering school as far as I recall.  For Basketball though, it's all Georgetown in DC.

Seriously, VT is bigger in Pittsburgh (I think it's closer?...) than in DC.

no joke its hoke

November 18th, 2012 at 7:25 PM ^

I didnt mean anything against you or your research WolvinLA. i think im just sick of the way college sports are moving. people talk that tradition and things like that make college better than the pro's. the truth is college is now just like the pro's,only with more cheating. the ncaa is making it harder to care,at least for me anyways.

GoBlueYork

November 18th, 2012 at 6:57 PM ^

No one in NYC cares about Rutgers. They don't move the needle, not even a fraction. NYC is and will always be a pro sports city.

The B1G does not need another Minnesota in terms of on-field performance in fooball and basketball. We already have a Minnesota.

On top of that, everytime Michigan plays Rutgers or Maryland, they play Wisconsin or Penn State one less time.

Since ND doesn't want to be in its natural footprint, the B1G is perfect the way it is with the addition of Nebraska. We should be extremely pissed if Delany pulls this stunt.

tasnyder01

November 18th, 2012 at 9:31 PM ^

What about the Michigan fans who wanted Schiano all those years ago? What about their academics? What about THE FRIGGIN CONFERENCE THAT'S TALKING TO THEM?!!

If you went to Michigan you're too dumb for these polemic statements. It seriously annoys me that we call ourselves "Michigan Men" and say "we're so damn smart" then say stuff like this. Either be an elite, arrogant Michigan Man, or be a dumb-$hit hick. But don't attempt to be both.

/Rant over

GoBlueYork

November 18th, 2012 at 9:48 PM ^

This has zero to do with michigan academics and a sense of arrogance. Outside of my 4 years at michigan, i've lived in nyc pretty much my whole life. No one has ever talked about rutgers. They are a bad fit. They cant sell out their 48,000 seat stadium.

It's a mid major program. They dont belong in the B1G. It's fine the way it is.

GotBlueOnMyMind

November 18th, 2012 at 6:57 PM ^

Maybe I'm alone on this, but my problem is not with Rutgers, but with expanding, no matter who we add. We already will have two year breaks on seeing other teams in the Big Ten, if we expanded then we would only see schools like PSU and Wiscy every 5 years or so, and that is unacceptable. The problem with expansion is that you are barely even in the same conference as the schools in the other division any more, a fact that I have an issue with.

FreeKarl

November 18th, 2012 at 6:58 PM ^

I think another point that people are overlooking is that while Maryland and Rutgers are not that popular now in terms of attendance, television viewership, and broader fan support, entry into the B1G gives them a much better football product to market. No one in New York cares about Rutgers vs USF, but I would think that Rutgers v Michigan, Nebraska, OSU, PSU would bring a significant more amount of interest to the team and possibly bring parts of the NY market into the B1G fold. 

eamus_caeruli (not verified)

November 18th, 2012 at 9:08 PM ^

You are wildly assuming alumni in NYC or suburbs would drive two-three hours to a half empty stadium in New Jersey. And you forget what 50k actually looks like when you sit in a 113k stadium every other Saturday. That's fing small man!

No offense and this is ridiculous but both Maryland and Rutgers are red and white primary colors. Seriously, how many teams in the big need the same colors? Just saying

ShockFX

November 18th, 2012 at 6:59 PM ^

It's a commuter school no one gives a shit about that provides absolutely ZERO REASON to associate with. If you were saying, well, it's add some school or no more football, then maybe I'd consider it. But really, there's not fucking reason for it. This needs to stop.

Feat of Clay

November 18th, 2012 at 7:46 PM ^

With Syracuse out of the AAU it's a problem, IMO.  It was a little embarrassing when the AAU booted Nebraska out, but there was legitimate bitching about the technicalities of that decision (the way they don't count Ag research, the med school being separate, etc etc.)  You could still say Nebraska "fit" the profile of an AAU school.  

Feat of Clay

November 19th, 2012 at 9:27 AM ^

Voting is private, but people who poke around believe that two of the Big Ten members (Michigan & Wisconsin) may have voted against UNL retaining its AAU status.  

It doesn't have to be an "All AAU" conference but there is a boatload of pride in Big Ten academics.  IMO people would get edgy if we admitted more members that didn't have that distinction, so a non-AAU member is a harder sell.

Not that anyone has called me to ask my opinion, mind you.

Also, I love your usericon., and yes I recognize what it is.  /FormerNebraskan