Football and basketball. That's why we're heading for the Big Ten, right? But I've written before that the B1G is more than just those two behemoths - and they're all broadcast on the Big Ten Network. The conference sponsors 28 sports, and Rutgers is in 24 of them. Rutgers does not compete in men's ice hockey (as a varsity sport), gymnastics, tennis, or swimming and diving. Thank you, Bob Mulcahy.
So where does Rutgers stand in comparison to our future brethren from the Midwest? Let's take a look at how things fared for the Fall 2013 season just completed. For the purposes of this overview, Maryland was not considered.
Rutgers did not have a great regular season, going just 2-5-1 in conference, good for 8th place. The team was 7-11-2 overall. The team did do better in the AAC tournament, making it to the semifinals where they lost to USF in double overtime. On a national level, Rutgers was ranked #68.
And the B1G? There were two teams in the Top 25 (Michigan State, Penn State) plus three more in the Top 50. Five B1G squads were in the NCAA tournament, with Michigan State and Penn State making it to the quarterfinals and MSU to the Final Four (playing semi-final on Dec. 7). Okay, I lied about Maryland; they made the NCAA quarterfinals, too.
On the women's side, RU was in better shape. Glenn Crooks' team was 5-3-1 in the AAC and 13-4-5 overall, good for a #30 ranking in the NCAA RPI. The team finished third in The American and earned an NCAA at-large bid. They lost in the First Round to WVU on Penalty Kicks.
B1G: Three women's soccer teams were in the Top 25 (Nebraska, Michigan, Penn State), and it had two more in the Top 50. Seven B1G squads made the NCAA tournament, with Michigan advancing to the quarterfinals before losing to top seed Virginia, 2-1.
This is a strength for the B1G. It had five squads in the Top 25 (Penn State, Northwestern, Michigan, Iowa, Michigan State). There were two more in the Top 50 and two squads (Penn State, Michigan State) made the NCAA tournament, where there were only 19 teams. Oh, and while I said I didn't look at Maryland, the Terps made the NCAA Final Four.
Interestingly, Rutgers was still in the Big East for Field Hockey, where it finished sixth out of nine teams. It had a 9-9 season overall, 2-5 in the BE. It was ranked #43 nationally.
If you get the Big Ten Network, you've got to watch volleyball. There are more people at the games than go to most Rutgers women's basketball. games The band is there, cheerleaders. It's loud and raucous. That is B1G Volleyball. There were five teams that were ranked in the Top 25 (Penn State, Nebraska, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois) and four more in the Top 50. Seven B1G squads made the 64 team NCAA field, five of them being seeded in the top 16. By comparison, the Rutgers Volleyball team was 1-17 in the AAC good for a 10th place finish), 5-27 overall, and ranked #284 of 332 schools. Got some work to do!
Corn is good. It must be, because all these Midwesterners can run forever. Let's hear it for carbo-loading.
On the Men's side, the B1G had three teams in the Top 30 nationally. Michigan (#16) won the Great Lakes Regional title while Wisconsin (#19) came in second. Those two along with Indiana qualified as teams for the NCAA championships. At the NCAA's, Indiana finished 8th, Wisconsin 9th, and Michigan 21st. By comparison, little Iona College in New Rochelle finished 6th....nationally.
As for the Scarlet, Rutgers men came in 6th Pl (out of 8) in the AAC Championship. The squad finished in 17th place at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals. The team did not, nor did any individuals, qualify for the national competition.
If you thought the B1G men looked good, look at the Women's XC squads. There were five B1G teams in the Top 30 (Michigan #8, Michigan State #14, Minnesota #16, Penn State #22, Wisconsin #28) and six (add Indiana to the list) qualified for the NCAAs. In the NCAA championship, the Wolverine women finished fourth, the Lady Spartans 6th, with Minnesota (20), Wisconsin (21), Penn State (25), and Indiana (26) all scoring.
Rutgers? Fifth place at the AAC Championships and 16th place at the NCAA Mid-Atlantic Regionals. Penn State finished third in the Mid-Atlantic Regional. And the Providence women - yes, Providence - won the NCAA title. And like the men, the team did not, nor did any individuals, qualify for the national competition.
Overall, Penn State had the best winning percentage (not counting football) of any B1G school that fielded all four teams with dual meet records (.767), followed by Michigan at .636. Maryland, which fields all four sports, had a .638 winning percentage. The Scarlet Knights winning percentage in those four sports? A whopping .400. And you thought the football coaching situation was going to take up a lot of Julie Hermann's time!! She's got a lot of work to do outside of the football offices.
After each season, we'll take a look at that season's RU and B1G finishes. So there's a lot to consider as we enter the B1G next year. What are your thoughts about the need to "upgrade" Rutgers athletics overall, specifically, at this juncture, the fall sports?