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The game is "What if": Rutgers & the Big 12?

It’s a mental exercise: what if. Like what if Jim Delany never met with Tim and said, “I’ve got an can’t refuse.”


We're in the Big Ten. And we love it. We are happy to be a part of the premier academic and athletic conference in the country. We - Rutgers - are with our peers, our true peers in terms of size, impact, prestige.

But what if we weren't. What if, in 2012, there had been no offer. And what if now, in 2016 as the Big 12 is looking to expand, Rutgers was looking to find a new athletic home. How would the Scarlet Knights stack up against the other schools that are scrambling to get out of the AAC or wherever? Glad you asked.

When the Big 12 announced it was back in the expansion game, we looked at some of their options along with whether it might be a good time for the B1G, along with the SEC, to consider another round of expansion. That led to a good deal of conversation of a) why the Big 12 needed to expand, b) why the Big Ten wouldn't expand, and c) what each conference might want in a new member.

The Twitter site D1.ticker is a great source for all kinds of info and data, and they explored the strengths of each of the potential candidates. We'll use their points for our look at Rutgers. Here goes "what if".


Rutgers attendance, even in the American Athletic Conference and Big East, wasn’t too bad. In fact, comparing it to the list above, Rutgers is second in that grouping coming in at an average 47,571.

Point, Rutgers.

Football Won-Loss Record

Don’t panic, people. Kyle didn’t screw us up that badly. And, thank you, 2006!

Okay, it isn’t a great total (79), but Rutgers actually averaged almost eight wins per season over the last decade. I was surprised myself.

By comparison, UConn won 58, Temple 58, Tulane 34 and East Carolina 75. RU tops all of them.

How many of us are there?

We got people. Lots of ‘em.

Rutgers claims an alumni base of over 470,000 worldwide. And every year it adds about another 16,000 to that total. Why is that important to note? Again, glad you asked. The total means little unless it can translate into support, something D1.ticker notes. Not insignificant, as we are seeing now with the R B1G Build.

And how much money is in the bank?

Rutgers endowment is small by the standards of our peers. After the recent Our Rutgers, Our Future campaign, Rutgers finally crossed the billion dollar threshold for its endowment at $1.009 B.

The others?

Rutgers is finally getting to where it needs to be. On a side note, Rutgers just hired its first endowment head, alum Jason MacDonald, to directly oversee the investment of the portfolio.

How good a school are we?

There are a lot of surveys and polls and methodologies to rank schools. For the sake of convenience - and because d1.ticker used it - let’s go with the U.S. News & World Report rankings.

Rutgers does okay. I’d like it better if it was higher than its 68 five-year average, but I’m willing to wait for the impact of the med school merger to kick in. And for the record, Temple had a five-year average of 126 and Cincinnati 140.

And quality is something conferences are looking for in new members. Iowa State’s president, Steven Leath, has more than just wins and losses on his mind.

Leath didn’t publicly support Houston or any potential Big 12 expansion target on Friday, but did say that an ideal candidate would bring a good fan base, a strong academic reputation and potentially a TV market the league isn’t in yet.

“You also want one with a history of running good, clean programs that add prestige to a league,” Leath said.

Athletic success

Uh oh. You knew this would come up eventually. Good thing Jim Delany didn’t look too closely at past performance.

A lot of you ignore or pooh-pooh me when I talk about the Directors’ Cup standings. And pooh-poohing is a serious action! But as I say, somebody is looking at them. And in that area, we don’t look real good. Over the last five years, Rutgers averaged a 102 standing, bottoming out in 2012-13 at 120 among D1 schools.

Uhh, is there a take away here, Bob?

Well, sort of. This was an interesting exercise. If nothing else, it probably shows that we are far better than virtually all of the “candidates” that the Big 12 is looking at. And to me, that says we are where we should be, in the Big Ten. Certain other blogs not withstanding (Hoosier cretins!). It also says that Rutgers fans and the state should be very happy - nay, ecstatic! - that the invitation came in 2012. And we should remember just what that means for us: support, support, support.

So, fear not, noble readers. You need not wake from any nightmare. There is no “what if”. We’re in the Big Ten. Dee-e-e-ep breath. It’s all right.