One of the great strengths of being in the Big Ten, besides its overall success and the financial rewards, is being on TV. A lot.
BTN is a fantastic asset for the conference and its members, being in the vanguard and setting the stage for all the other conference networks.
Of course, while everyone gets on the tube, some schools get on more than others. And for a variety of reasons. Who has the most successful teams? Who has the best crowds that look good on TV? Who has lights?
BTN issued a press release today on its baseball and softball coverage. In part it states: Below is a preliminary schedule, with more games to be added to the TV schedule at a later date. The BTN Plus streaming schedule can be viewed here [don’t click, there’s nothing there yet]
Well, “below” shows 20 games for baseball and 23 for softball. Rutgers is currently scheduled to be on air once for baseball and twice for softball. No other baseball team is on only once; only two other softball teams are on only twice (Illinois, PSU). And none of those RU games on television are in Piscataway.
Almost three years ago I lamented about the baseball and softball facilities at Rutgers. I won’t rehash it here; you can read that post on the dismal state of RU facilities compared to the rest of the Big Ten here. The fact is, you can’t shake the idea out of my head that part of the reason BTN doesn’t broadcast from Piscataway is the facilities.
And let’s take it one step further: of the 20 baseball games listed, eight of them start after 6 pm. Which means you need to line up the cars and turn on the headlights to play at Rutgers. Same with softball: again, eight games start after 6 pm.
No. Lights. At. Rutgers. For either sport.
Could Rutgers be added to the list for more games in either sport? Sure. Games in Piscataway? It’s possible. But a couple of things come into play. 1. You know there won’t be any night games. 2. Winning helps. Currently baseball is 6-10 and softball is 4-16, both third worst in the conference. That gets people’s attention, but for the wrong reasons.
Preseason, Rutgers baseball was not picked to be in the top half of the conference. For softball, five Big Ten teams were either ranked or received votes nationally; yes, if you said RU was not among them you’d be right.
Like it or not, facilities draw good players. Not saying that RU doesn’t have good players, but when you see those balmy locales like Michigan (both schools), Minnesnowta and Iowa in the top of the conference, something is amiss.
We could start with lights.