Rutgers Is Not Worthy Of Being In The Big Ten And It’s Only Been A Year
Rutgers in the Big Ten is a monumental mistake that will have lasting effects on the school.
With the conclusion of the college basketball season on Monday night, the major college sports season has ended. For Rutgers, their first season in the Big Ten was part monumental, part bittersweet and all disastrous. Prior to becoming a part of the Big Ten, Rutgers was a good, if not steady, member of the Big East and for one year the American Athletic Conference (AAC). The football program was always in the discussion for a conference title and their basketball team was always being mentioned as being on the cusp of being competitive.
For the Scarlet Knight football team, there were some highlights during their first season in the Big Ten. A home victory over Michigan along with a visit to the eventual National Champion Ohio State was among the stories of the season. We also saw blowout losses to the Buckeyes, Wisconsin and Nebraska en route to a 3-5 conference record and 8-5 overall record. They won the Quick Lane Bowl against North Carolina but as a whole, the season was considered disappointing after a fast 5-1 start.
For the Rutgers men’s basketball team, this season was an abomination. They finished with a terrible record of 10-22 and a 2-16 mark in the Big Ten. There was a highlight home win over number four ranked and eventual NCAA runner-up Wisconsin but besides that, there was nothing to celebrate. They ended the season losing their last 15 games in a row and their season ended in a whimper. For the women’s basketball team, they went 23-10 and 12-6 in their first season in the Big Ten en route to another NCAA Tournament appearance. Let’s be honest though, the problem isn’t the great and always talented Rutgers women’s basketball team. The problem is the two major men’s team and their standing in the Big Ten conference.
When the announcement was made concerning Rutgers moving to the Big Ten along with Maryland, many believed that two schools would have issues competing. Maryland basketball was good and their football team had the Phil Knight-like backing of Under Armour CEO Kevin Plank so many believed they would reach relevance quick. Rutgers moving was somewhat of a surprise to some but many knew why the move was being made. Outside of Penn State, the Big Ten did not have much reach in the Northeast, more particularly the New York City area. With the addition of Rutgers, the conference had their New York coverage for their Big Ten Network but without really considering whether a middle of the road team like Rutgers would be able to stand up to the major programs the Big Ten features.
Many in the media believed that Rutgers did not belong in such a prestigious conference. One of the the biggest critics of the Scarlet Knight moving conferences was WFAN’s Mike Francesa, who on his radio show in July 2014 said this about Rutgers playing in the Big Ten:
“I honestly think Rutgers — I hate to say it — in terms of basketball and football, they really don’t belong in the Big Ten,” he said. “I’m not trying to get on them, I’m really not. But they have not shown, they never could beat the best the Big East had to offer. They could never beat West Virginia. How are they supposed to go compete with the top of the Big Ten?”
With the news of Rutgers changing conferences, others also took a “wait and see” approach to the Scarlet Knights and their athletic teams. After the seasons the Rutgers football and men’s basketball suffered, that approach ended and many saw Rutgers for what they really are…an athletic program with only one team worthy of being in the Big Ten with the other teams worthy more of being in the MAAC (no offense to MAAC teams including my alma mater Monmouth University).
Rutgers moving into the Big Ten was a mistake of epic proportions. The lack of proper basketball facilities, small time coaches and players who are just not up to the level of the top notch athletes within the conference are among the major issues Rutgers face. High profile players in the tri-state area are just not seeing Rutgers as a feasible, competitive team anymore. Even Greg Schiano was able to recruit some players out of Florida and Rutgers were a perennial eight to nine win team. Kyle Flood is just not the recruiter that Schiano was and nowhere the coach that Schiano is.
Regarding men’s basketball, the program just is not good but really, when have they ever been good? They last made the NCAA Tournament in 1991 and the NIT in 2006. The biggest news they have made in the last five years is the video of verbal and physical abuse from former coach Mike Rice to players in a secretly taped practice. After firing Rice, they hired former Rutgers standout and member of the Rutgers 1976 Final Four team Eddie Jordan and he has proceeded to go 22-43 in his first two seasons with the team. The team is bound to be a bottom feeder of the Big Ten with their only big game every year coming against Penn State, who is in just as bad shape in basketball as Rutgers.
Many believed that Rutgers moving to a new conference would mean bigger and better things for athletics and the university as a whole. Unfortunately, Rutgers moving to the Big Ten as only resulted in mediocre teams masquerading as a major conference school. Rutgers athletic director Julie Hermann, who has her own past demons, has promised new facilities and continued upgrades to the almost 40-year old Louis Brown Athletic Center but nothing as been set in stone. In the end, Rutgers joining such a big time conference will most likely result in rising tuition for students and add some debt to the books of the State University of New Jersey.
Rutgers in the AAC makes sense, hell Rutgers in the Atlantic 10 makes sense. Rutgers in the Big Ten is monumental mistake that will have lasting effects on the school. Sorry Scarlet Knight fans and alums, but your two major teams will never be successful in the Big Ten. Your only hope is women’s basketball and under the leadership of C. Vivian Stringer, that will be the only certainly Rutgers athletics has on the books.
Fans looking to see the Scarlet Knights in Year 2 of their Big Ten membership can travel to any collegiate event through Hipmunk.com, who offer detailed guides on cheap tickets for flights, as well as hotel guides for every major city in America. Whether it’s Happy Valley, Ann Arbor, or New Brunswick, Hipmunk can help you make your travel plans for this season.
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