Rutgers' dreams just came true.
After years spent worrying (justifiably) about its place in college athletics, the Rutgers Scarlet Knights have essentially been bailed out--saved by the very man who, not too long ago, seemed to be pushing the school to the brink of irrelevancy.
The last time the Big Ten expanded, a couple years back now, it was widely assumed that Jim Delany would snatch up Rutgers in order to tap into the (potentially) lucrative New York television market. But instead, the Big Ten's powerful commissioner looked to the west, where he grabbed mighty Nebraska, thereby fortifying his league's football reputation. In the mad conference shuffling that followed, Rutgers was stranded in struggling Big East, left to wonder if the league would collapse around them, especially after Syracuse and Pitt later announced they would move on to the ACC.
Well, those days of worry are over.
On Tuesday, the Big Ten announced that Rutgers would join the league as its 14th member, following in the trail of Maryland, which became the league's 13th team the day before.
"This is a historic day for Rutgers University," Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti said in a statement. "It is an honor to join such a prestigious conference and begin our partnership with the outstanding institutions in the Big Ten. There is no finer conference in the nation that combines top-notch academics and athletics."
Added Delany: "The additions of Rutgers and the University of Maryland further expand the Big Ten's footprint while helping solidify our presence on the East Coast. Both institutions feature a combination of academic and athletic excellence and will prove a great fit for our future."
Delany's move, as he's made clear over the past couple of days, was about one thing and one thing only: Demographics. Which is to say, it was about money. No, neither Maryland nor Rutgers will ever be major players in the Big Ten title race, but both are located near huge television markets that will allow (in theory) the Big Ten Network to expand its subscriber base, thereby generating more money for the conference's 14 member schools.
By all accounts, it seems that Delany's move, while derided in some corners, will indeed accomplish its stated goal of making his league more cash--and Rutgers, against all odds and despite its mostly miserable football history, will be among the 14 schools to benefit. Its football program has been saved.
Whether or not the same will be true of those poor schools left behind in the Big East remains to be seen.
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