So, a quiet evening a couple of days ago, I was reading the latest article on the rumors about whether or not the Big XII was going to expand and if so, who were the likely candidates. As I was reading the different ideas of who would be invited to join, how it will help or hurt the conference, and the instability it may create in other conferences, I suddenly realized- hey, that was us just a few years ago!
Remember? Back just five years ago, when the Big East began to implode when Pittsburgh and Syracuse announced their departure for the ACC. Then TCU spurned the Big East to join the Big XII, quickly followed by the exit of West Virginia leaving for the Big XII. It was an ugly time for Rutgers fans. What will happen? Where will we end up?
Then, just 3 ½ years ago, we received the biggest gift the school had received since Colonel Rutgers donated the money to revive the college back in the 1820s. Jim Delany, New Jersey native and Big Ten Commissioner came calling with an invite to the Big Ten conference.
More than one commentator at the time said that Rutgers got the last life raft off the sinking ship of the Big East, and it was an apt description. Other pundits said the life raft was more of a luxury liner, considering the financial implications of the move.
Now, here we are. I read the articles about the machinations of the Big XII and think, ‘boy, how sad. It must be awful to be in that situation.' How quickly we forget! Instead of wondering if we were going to have any way to be able to continue as a program with any relevance at all, we are now concerned about how to create a program to compete with Ohio State, Michigan, and Penn State. Instead of watching all of the programs of value running away to better conferences, we are part of the best academic and athletic conference. That's right, boys and girls, the team that played in the first football game is now a part of the first football conference!
What an amazing difference it has been for our athletic program since November, 2012. We have had three athletic directors, three basketball coaches, two football coaches, and continued our streak of a new football offensive coordinator every year since that time. OK, so everything isn't different, but I have great hope Drew Mehringer will be more than "one and done."
The general feeling you get on campus, in media, and online is that the program has turned a corner, that we are on the verge of great things. A very positive vibe, and every move these days seems to be a positive one. Local recruits seem to be buying into staying and playing for the home team. Donations are increasing, and even the building plan seems to be coming to fruition. Even new uniforms, released this week, have gotten a positive response from the online voters.
With all that, I think back to the Big XII, and their expansion turmoil. All I can think is: without Mr. Delany and his offer, we would be begging to be able to become involved in one of those Big XII scenarios. Thank you, Jim Delany!!!