Earlier today, it was announced that USC and UCLA will be joining the Big Ten Conference as soon as 2024. Per ESPN’s Pete Thamel, the move is already “essentially done”. This move appears to be a direct answer to Oklahoma and Texas jumping from the Big 12 to the SEC. It came as a surprise to many, as both B1G Commissioner Kevin Warren and PAC-12 Commissioner George Kliavkoff publicly denied that conference expansion would be an option for their leagues in recent months. The B1G-ACC-PAC-12 “Alliance” appears to be finished.
Now, the B1G has 16 member teams, stretching from Los Angeles to Piscataway. They are the first conference to stretch from coast to coast. They are in line for a new TV deal in the near future that will undoubtedly break the $1 billion per year threshold. The conference can easily dominate TV audiences across the country. To do so, it needs Rutgers.
Since they joined the B1G in 2014, many have denied the legitimacy of Rutgers in the conference. However, over the last year, Rutgers has won its first conference titles in multiple sports and has cemented its standing among the other member schools. The athletic department was budgeted an additional $100 million by New Jersey governor Phil Murphy for improvements to athletic facilities just two days ago. This money can go towards improvements at Jersey Mike’s Arena or for a brand new practice facility for the football program.
Rutgers is at a key point in the development of its athletic programs. With improvements of results and facilities, Rutgers can grow its local following to more widespread fandom. It has recently carried out a marketing campaign focused on “the state of Rutgers”, promoting Rutgers’ influence, stretching it outside of New Jersey into New York, Philadelphia and beyond.
The B1G needs to see the opportunity that Rutgers presents to them. If Rutgers can increase its influence in the NYC tri-state and Pennsylvania, they can take control of the massive market in the region. New York has no college team that it collectively roots for because there are no powerhouses. Rutgers’ competition for control of the region is Syracuse, Boston College and UConn. Rutgers will be facing the best competition on national television frequently, which the ACC (Syracuse and BC) and American Conference (UConn) can’t offer.
The B1G must devote as many resources as possible to cultivating the success of Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights will be the key to making the B1G the first true coast-to-coast super conference in college sports.