The last two weeks have been a whirlwind for college athletics as the wheel of conference realignment continues to spin.
On Friday, we had a flurry of activity of schools switching and moving conferences, with the Big Ten Conference being part of the chaos. The Big Ten Council of Presidents/Chancellors approved the admittance of the University of Oregon and the University of Washington in 2024 to create an 18-team superconference in the one Midwest-centric collection of schools.
"We are excited to welcome the University of Oregon and the University of Washington to the Big Ten Conference," said Big Ten Commissioner Tony Petitti. "We look forward to building long-lasting relationships with the universities, administrators and staff, student-athletes, coaches and fans," Petitti said. "Both institutions feature a combination of academic and athletic excellence that will prove a great fit for our future."
As of press time, here is the complete list of schools in the Big Ten:
- Michigan State
- Ohio State
- Penn State
Thanks to ESPN's Field Yates, the actual map of the future Big Ten Conference is an absolute joke.
A look at the future Big 10… pic.twitter.com/ijWwyt7U4U
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) August 4, 2023
This move, in addition to the Big 12 Conference adding other Pac-12 teams, was in reaction, in essence, to the awful streaming/linear TV deal put forward by Pac-12 commissioner George Kliavkoff earlier this month. As Wu-Tang Clan once said, "Cash rules everything around me, dollar dollar bill, y'all," and these moves were all about the money. Schools saw that the Pac-12 was floundering while playing a poker hand that was a loser hand at the turn, and those schools said, "I'm good. I will hit that dusty trail and try to make substantially more money consistently."
For the Big Ten, the expansion moves the conference officially into the conversation as the top conference in the country with the SEC. Eighteen teams sound insane, and the fact that it grew so big so fast could prove to be a detriment over time. However, in the short term, the moves are a coup for Big Ten commissioner Tony Petitti, who has been on the job for less than three months.
Since this is Jersey Sporting News, the question has to be answered…what does this mean for Rutgers? Well, it means a lot.
What The New Big Ten Means For Rutgers
Regarding football (and let's be honest, that's what this movement is all about), it's a death knell for the Scarlet Knights. The addition of Oregon and Washington, two teams that have appeared in the College Football Playoff since its inception, means two more losses for Greg Schiano's squad in the future. UCLA and USC joining was terrible enough, but now, Rutgers has four teams, in addition to powerhouses Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State, that they will not beat on Any Given Saturday. So Rutgers fans, be prepared for many 4-8 seasons in Piscataway.
It will be curious to see how the Scarlet Knights react to the changes on the hardwood for the conference. Since Steve Pikell took over as head coach, the basketball program at Rutgers has been a perennial player in the Big Ten and has started to make noise on the recruiting trail, as evidenced by their No. 2 ranking in the nation for their 2024 class. Of the four teams joining the conference, UCLA is the biggest threat to Rutgers in basketball, but playing the Bruins will make Rutgers better in the long run. All the additions to the Big Ten do for Rutgers is give them some good RPI and Quad wins for Selection Sunday.
For the other sports that everyone forgets about in college athletics, Rutgers soccer, men's and women's, baseball, and lacrosse will continue to thrive as the school does a great job of recruiting the Northeast for players. These sports are the lifeblood of any athletics program and encapsulate what college sports and what it represents outside of big money and TV deals. I'm excited for these athletes to experience trips to the West Coast and places they may not have seen before outside the Big Ten bubble. Look out for these sports to thrive in the new setup.
All of this realignment is terrible for college sports, as I've said for years. Longtime rivalries end and familiar opponents disappear as colleges and conferences chase the almighty dollar. In the end, the movement is all about football. As mentioned many times in history by talking heads on television, football is singlehandedly ruining the rest of college athletics.
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