People in sports have short memories.
It's all about "What have you done for me lately?"
And that's why there's been a subtle nudge by the national media for the Big Ten to disinvite Rutgers and replace them with UConn. It hasn't been all that big, a column here or there and more than a few tweets. And CT Post columnist Kevin Duffy topped it off with this little ditty. If you haven't read it and you're a Rutgers fan, don't. It's pretty brutal. But the gist is Rutgers sucks, UConn is good.
And Duffy finally posits:
Yeah, in the past few months, the UConn Huskies have had a nice run. A brand new football coach, two national championships and a head coach in Kevin Ollie who NBA teams want. They're doing really well.
And Rutgers? Well, we've covered that here ad nauseum.
But let's get in our DeLorean or TARDIS and travel back to November 20, 2012. Things were different back then, weren't they. Rutgers football was 9-1 and appeared to be headed toward a BCS bowl birth. They had a great defense, and their coach had kept together the best recruiting class in school history when the previous coach had bailed for the NFL.
And the basketball team? Well, they had a highly energetic young coach and a team of highly ranked players with potential. They hadn't finished over .500 yet, but had beaten 2 top ten teams in 2012 and 1 more the year before in spectacular fashion.
There was even more: The football program was consistently in the top 10% of APR. And according to USA Today, they were the most popular college football team in NYC. Not to mention Rutgers' academic accomplishments, such as being a member of the prestigious AAU, and (at the time) being in the process of adding a medical school.
Rutgers was trending up and at the right time. The Big Ten took notice and realized they could use this growing program and school and parlay it into NYC ratings gold.
Meanwhile, UConn? Their nadir was a basketball national championship in 2011, and that was great for them. But their Hall of Fame coach, Jim Calhoun left in early fall of 2012 forcing the AD to hire Calhoun's choice-the unproven Kevin Ollie-as head coach--on a preliminary basis. And that legendary basketball team was about to be banned from postseason basketball because their grades weren't high enough. Meanwhile, their football coach had fled for Maryland, leaving the team desolated. In 2012, they finished 5-7 (2-5 in the Big East, granted one of their wins was over Louisville).
They weren't trending upward at the time.
But that's what can happen. Things can turn on a dime. Kevin Ollie turned out to be coaching gold, won a championship and sold out MSG to the awe of the media. Meanwhile, Rutgers' basketball coach turned out to be a bit bonkers and sent the school into a downward spiral of PR Nightmares.
But, this is the long game. And Rutgers is a fit in more ways than UConn is. Joining the conference is more than just a year of good or bad results. It's about things going forward.
Who knows? Maybe Rutgers pulls a sporting miracle out of their hats this year and becomes a national story. Or maybe Kevin Ollie just can't turn down the Lakers or the Warriors or whomever.
Things can always change.
But Jim Delany is counting on the trends to even out, and maybe, just maybe Rutgers looks brighter going forward.
They certainly did a year and a half ago.
Maybe next round of expansion, UConn. Maybe.
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