Will Rutgers Join the Big Ten?

Mike LewisContributor IJuly 20, 2009

PISCATAWAY, NJ - NOVEMBER 09:  Fans of the Rutgers Scarlet Knights rush the field after their team defeated the Louisville Cardinals 28-25 at Rutgers Stadium on November 9, 2006 in Piscataway, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Big Ten football and the birthplace of college football could be a match made in heaven. 

Although expansion won’t happen this year, many are speculating that Rutgers could be a part of the Big Ten’s future.

There have been talk of the Big Ten possibly expanding to 12 teams since the 1990s. 

The pressure has been greater than ever lately; especially, since Joe Paterno publically stated that the conference should add a 12th team. Paterno argued that the conference is at a competitive disadvantage because while, "Everybody else is playing playoffs on television," the Big Ten's football teams, "Go into hiding for six weeks."

According to former Penn State athletic director Jim Tarman, Paterno has been in favor of pursuing Rutgers since 1990, "(Joe) Paterno and I would tell them, if we can't get Notre Dame, Rutgers should be our first choice," Tarman said.

Although conference commissioner Jim Delaney has called expansion a “back-burner issue” saying, "There's not an obvious move,” the addition of Rutgers appears to be a very logical move for both sides. 

Rutgers would bring a lot to the conference. 

First and foremost, they are an up and coming program. They are quickly growing a fan base, drawing highly rated recruits, and expanding their stadium.

Adding Rutgers, who drew a rating of 8.1 in New York during an upset win over Louisville in 2006, would give the conference a large presence in the New York—New Jersey market. 

Between the money that a conference championship would bring-in and the money from Rutgers’ ticket and television revenue, it would almost certainly be profitable.

With the addition of the Flagship University of New Jersey the conference would have nine flagship universities. The Big Ten would also maintain its reputation for academic excellence, as the only athletic conference in which all members belong to the prestigious Association of American Universities.

Adding the birthplace of college football would add to the rich tradition of the nation’s oldest athletic conference.

If offered, Rutgers would be crazy not to join the Big Ten. 

Playing in the Big Ten would help the program generate more excitement and gain more fans. A Big Ten membership could make rivalry games against Penn State a part of Rutgers' football. Road games would take place in places like Beaver Stadium, the Horseshoe, and the Big House. 

More importantly for Rutgers, some of college football’s most storied programs would visit Rutgers Stadium on a regular basis. Seasons could end at the Rose, Capital One, and Outback Bowls. Even the less successful seasons would end in more prominent Bowl games, than they do as a member of the Big East. Rutgers would play a tougher schedule, making for a better program in the long run. The school would profit because Big Ten football generates almost twice as much money as Big East football. Getting a share of that money would be good for the entire university.

Of all the schools that are rumored to be in the discussion for expansion, Rutgers is the only one that would add a quality football team, a large new market, and great academics. 

Rutgers and the Big Ten have a lot to offer one another. 

If the Big Ten continues to struggle on the national stage and Rutgers continues to build their program, the possibility of the Scarlet Knights facing Michigan in the Big Ten Championship Game or USC in the Rose Bowl may become very real.


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