As anyone who follows the Big Ten closely knows, there is always talk about the 11-team league expanding to twelve teams. Penn State joined in the early 90s and Notre Dame has often been cited as a perfect fit, both geographically and because of its natural rivalries within the conference (Purdue, Michigan, MSU, etc.). However, ND continues to stay independent, since joining a challenging league where they can't schedule the armed forces and Vanderbilt in the middle of the season (when the Big Ten teams are in grueling stretches beating each other up) is just simply not acceptable. How can they be expected to win nine games and get to an undeserved BCS bowl game in which they will invariably be torched if they join a solid league and are forced to play a league schedule?
So it continues to remain unlikely that Notre Dame would join the Big Ten. The second-most likely candidate, according to multiple sources? That's right, the State University of New Jersey, also known as Rutgers.
The new Big Ten television network would LOVE to have a team from NJ that could help pull in the NY/NJ television audience. I would love it because it would mean Purdue would play in my home state every other year. But I don't think anybody is as excited as Steve Politi of NJ.com. Take it away, Steve...
In the early '90s, soon after Penn State became the 11th member of the Big Ten, its longtime football coach and athletic director tried lobbying for another eastern school to join the conference. "(Joe) Paterno and I would tell them, 'If we can't get Notre Dame, Rutgers should be our first choice,'" said Jim Tarman, the since-retired athletic director. Other league officials would look at the two men as if they had not only added Pennsylvanians to their ranks but Martians, too.
Yeah, what are you guys, MARTIANS?? (Are we an on eighth-grade playground?)
Tarman couldn't remember why his colleagues were resistant to the idea, but it could have something to do with the fact that Rutgers had been very bad at football for a very long time. Just a guess.
Bingo. Good guess. Penn State likes playing patsies, too.
The Scarlet Knights are winning now, and still, the idea of them joining the Midwest league feels a little like Menudo in the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame.
Menudo. Topical, dude.
It makes sense for Rutgers, because the Big Ten is college football. Say no to the Big Ten? To all the money, prestige, tradition and excitement? Unless you're have Touchdown Jesus overlooking your stadium, you do not say no to the Big Ten.
Flattering. Also tells you how much people here think of the Big (L)East, whose defenders always point out their basketball prowess.
Penn State as a Thanksgiving Day rival ... Northwestern as the one gimme win on the schedule ... Ohio State bringing the No. 1 ranking into Piscataway ... Hurry, somebody book a flight to Ann Arbor!
Whoa, dude, calm down. You're going to burst a blood vessel. Also, isn't a bit presumptious to be circling your "gimme wins" already? No? Okay. And Ohio State is #1? Dude, these things change from year to year, I hope you know that. And yeah, you're cute. Book your flight to Ann Arbor. You have no idea how much fun THAT visit will be. Yikes.
I also love a little further along in the article, this jab:
The conference must decide Rutgers, which in its current league -- what was that called again? -- has never finished better than third place, is the most logical choice.
Ha! Steve Politi wants to make sweet love to the Big Ten. Hey, Big East! I don't even remember your damn NAME!! You whore!
Stanley Ikenberry, the former University of Illinois president who was instrumental in the expansion talks back [when PSU joined] listed the requirements when Penn State was added. The league would only take a new member if it made sense geographically, if it was compatible as an institution, and if it fielded a strong athletic program. Plug Rutgers into the formula, and you can see why it's not so silly.
It's not silly geographically? I would have to differ with you there, kind sir. While I'd love to see this happen, it would definitely suck for the Rutgers athletics programs to have to travel to exotic locales like Minneapolis, Minnesota, Madison, Wisconsin and Aimes, Iowa. But okay.
Rutgers would allow the Big Ten to move further east, finally giving Penn State a natural rival it has lacked since joining the conference.
Really? Rutgers main campus and Penn State's main campus are separated by 236 miles and about four hours of driving. Oh, and they're in different states. But sure. I guess they'd be natural rivals. Not so much as, say, Pitt and PSU, but I can get on board.
Athletically, the Scarlet Knights are coming off the finest season in school history, winning their first-ever bowl game in football and advancing to the national title game in women's basketball.
I guess you gotta start somewhere.
Would it make sense for Rutgers? Again, it would be an offer the Scarlet Knights could not refuse. The football team's victory total would take a step back, but that would be the trade-off for the athletic program taking a step forward in virtually everything else, and having the Michigan fight song playing in Piscataway.
Goodness, this guy has a real boner for Michigan, doesn't he?
Really, you can only sit back and marvel at the fact we're even discussing this. Has any program gone from zero to the big-time quicker?
Do you want a real answer? How about Northwestern, circa 1994. Perennial dormat to the Rose Bowl. Do you know what has happened since then? Oops.
Maybe someday in the distant future, we'll be breaking down the Ohio State two-deeps.
Or listening to the Michigan fight song while Lloyd Carr crades your head in his bosom.
Then onto the NFC East!
Calm down, Steve.