ESPN's Bottom Line - Version 2.0

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Rutgers to the Big 10

This past week the media has been reporting on conflicting stories regarding Rutgers being invited to join the Big 10 conference. Whether or not they have actually been invited formally or not isn't that interesting. What is interesting is the prospect of Rutgers joining the Big 10 and playing against the likes of Michigan, Penn St., and Ohio State on a regular basis. Can you imagine Joe Pa and the Nittany Lions coming into New Brunswick to battle the up and coming Scarlet Knights in front of the largest TV market in America?

Why does the Big 10 want to expand? Money.
Last year the Big 10 was the highest grossing NCAA conference with total revenues around $300,000,000 and when divided between the 11 schools after other NCAA shares were extracted the net income per school was around $22million.

The Big 10 conference launched a television network in the Fall of 2007 hoping to capitalize on the success of the NFL Network and the college football fan's fervor for more coverage. The Big 10 Network has substantially more material to cover than the NFL Network but they have been looking to increase viewership in an effort to demand higher fees from the cable networks carrying the channel. In order to drive up that viewership it would make a whole lot of sense to tap into the 18 million viewer NYC market that Rutgers sits directly in the middle of.

Why would Rutgers want to join the Big 10? #1 Money, #2 Money, #3 Recognition
In terms of simple economics this would be a great deal for Rutgers. Last year their athletic dept made a net profit of $159,641 on a $58,000,000 budget. Plus they earned about $6,000,000 for their share of the Big East revenues. Now I'm not a doctor but $22+ Million seems like a lot more than $6.1 Million. What can that money do? It can pay for even better facilities, school buildings, teachers, programs, or basically anything. The fact that teachers would even think of calling this a departure from the school's mission to educate students is baffling. It seems that these teachers need to walk over to the math and economics departments to get straightened out. When state funding for nearly anything is drying up across the country and very much so in NJ, Rutgers would be foolish to pass up the opportunity get in on that.

The move would also allow the Football team to capitalize on their up and coming status in the middle of a big recruiting hotbed that it's been missing out on. In last year's NFL draft there were 7 kids taken in the first round with NJ roots. That is more than any other state! Actually from the first round alone in last 3 drafts there has a ton of talent from the NJ, NY, PA, and DE area. How would this lineup have looked wearing Scarlet Red on Saturdays?

QBs: Matt Ryan, Joe Flacco
RBs: Knowshon Moreno, Donald Brown
WR: Kenny Britt
OL: Eugene Monroe, Jeff Otah, Anthony Davis
DL: BJ Raji, Aaron Maybin, Derrick Morgan
LB: Brian Cushing
DB: Mike Jenkins, Devin McCourty

Out of those players only 3 actually went to Rutgers or 21.4%. With the increased exposure Rutgers would get from playing in the limelight of a top tier conference Coach Schiano would have a much easier time landing those top flight recruits year in and year out. Then once he really gets that rolling we all know that nothing breeds success like success. This is how National Championships are won.

According to the NCAAs latest financial report only 25 of the 119 D-1 FBS schools earned money last year. Rutgers' football program is already in the black so they are in a good situation to start with. When you consider that plus the added Big 10 funds and expanded national airtime, the school would be primed to take off both on and off the field.

There is a great article on written by Tom Luicci about this situation which I used for some of the financial stats in this post.


Justin! said...

Rutgers will be at the Rose Bowl by 2014! The Big Ten commish is a jerk for acting like they aren't really trying to expand the league. "Pay no attention to that man behind the curtain!" That's right, a Wizard of Oz reference

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