News broke this week that the Big Ten revenue sharing payout for full conference members will increase to $51.1 million dollars for next season. Of course, Nebraska, Maryland, and Rutgers will still receive partial shares, based on the deals that were made when they joined the Big Ten in recent years. With the new television deals that the conference made with ESPN and FOX back in January, that full conference share will continue to rise over the years. Of course, Rutgers will only see a little more than 20% of what Big Ten schools are getting next season and won’t start receiving a full share until the 2020-2021 season.
The reality is that while the wide gap in revenue certainly hurts Rutgers from a competitive advantage perspective, the school would make that deal every day of the week and twice on Sunday. It was a no brainer then and still is today. Rutgers is hurt more by the fact they were starting so far behind from other Big Ten school’s in terms of facilities, fundraising, infrastructure, big picture thinking, and having healthy programs in multiple sports.
The less revenue Rutgers receives right now doesn’t help, but the state of the athletic department under previous poor leadership is more to blame for the lackluster performances that have resulted in Rutgers programs winning zero conference titles in the first three years in the Big Ten. Look at Maryland, who were already in a big time conference, the ACC, and have had tremendous success in the Big Ten in multiple sports since their arrival, despite received an equally limited revenue share.
The fact is there is a lot to be positive about at Rutgers now that the right leadership is in place, led by athletic director Pat Hobbs and Deputy Director Sarah Baumgartner. It’s going to take time, money and patience, but better days are ahead. However, it’s unrealistic to think that the rest of the Big Ten will ever take a positive view in the big picture outlook for Rutgers. It’s time to accept that and embrace it. Here is the latest example.
NJ Advance Media’s Steve Politi wrote about the discrepancy in revenue sharing yesterday and it triggered fan bases across the conference.
Michigan, Ohio State, etc. get $51.1 million next season. Rutgers gets $11.6 million. Highway robbery. Column: https://t.co/63St2XRPod— Steve Politi (@StevePoliti) June 16, 2017
If you are on twitter, you can view the mentions that Politi received for the article and let’s just say it gets downright crazy. The vitriol and hatred that Big Ten fan bases launch towards Rutgers, which has only seemed to ramp up over the past couple years, is so wild, it’s actually impressive. The irony of yesterday is that Big Ten fans showed how ignorant they are by latching on to Politi’s article, thinking that all Rutgers fans are complaining. Many Scarlet faithful have to be laughing at the notion that Big Ten fans equate Politi as the voice of Rutgers fan base. I bet Politi is laughing, too.
This is nothing new. As the managing editor of this site, I always get a chuckle when Big Ten fans come out of the woodwork to express their hatred of Rutgers. In fact, we see it from colleagues at other SB Nation Big Ten sites. I wish I could have put money on favorite Rutgers hater, Indiana’s site Crimson Quarry, publishing a response to Politi’s article. Of course, they did just a few hours later.
Rutgers not happy with their Big Ten deal?— CRIMSON QUARRY (@crimsonquarry) June 16, 2017
Don’t let the door hit you on the way out. https://t.co/2h2yOLlhZ1
Crimson Quarry essentially publishes a quarterly report of anti-Rutgers rhetoric and they do it for a reason. It resonates with a large portion of their readers and it’s good for business. That’s not to discount that their writers also hate the idea of Rutgers in the Big Ten, because they do. It’s really not that surprising and they certainly are not alone.
No fan base loves to troll Rutgers fans more on twitter than Michigan fans. When I wrote this article last summer about Michigan football legitimizing Rutgers football from a recruiting perspective by counterattacking the “fence the garden” mantra, it set off a firestorm of responses. In fact, I was getting mentions on twitter as late as this winter from Michigan fans about it. They are often responding negatively on social media when Rutgers is mentioned in a positive or optimistic way.
Heck, even Northwestern basketball fans like to troll on Rutgers, which is laughable considering that their program just made their first NCAA Tournament ever last season.
My point is that Rutgers fans need to embrace the hate. It makes perfect sense that a large, vocal portion of Big Ten fans despise Rutgers. We certainly didn’t help our cause with a terrible first impression in entering the conference with controversies, scandals, terribly leadership and extremely poor performances in the majority of sports. Big Ten fans don’t want to hear about how adding Rutgers increased the television contracts and thus, the financial worth of the conference, due to the New York City market. They don’t place value in Rutgers being the 8th oldest institution of higher learning in this country, or the fact the school can be confused for an Ivy league school by some on the west coast, or the fact that it’s older than America itself.
Heck, a lot of Big Ten fans aren’t even smart enough to be happy about all the extra winning they enjoyed since Rutgers joined the Big Ten. All they care about is that adding Rutgers changed their traditional footprint and gave them an opponent that’s not named after a Midwestern state. They’re upset that their sacred conference allowed a school with a lot of losing programs in and muddied their holy water. Rutgers is literally viewed as the Scarlet headed step child of the Big Ten. Adding Rutgers has made the other Big Ten schools richer and more successful in conference play, yet they still hate us.
My response to Rutgers fans is so what. Don’t be upset because there is a loud group of small minded fans that don’t like us. Rutgers is like the new kid in high school that no one accepts and thinks is weird. We are the new kids on a very old, established block and we need to earn respect. I mean, that’s life. While I think the level of trolling and hatred that gets spewed out by some Big Ten fans is extreme, it’s not surprising in the age of social media. Apparently Midwestern charm doesn’t translate online.
I say embrace the hate. It’s a no win situation to counterattack and to show them that it upsets you. Play the long game. Chess over checkers. Rutgers is never leaving the Big Ten and the other fan bases can stew and stomp and stammer for as long as they want, but that’s not ever changing. Let them get a laugh over calling us Buttgers, as they obviously need one. Let those fans who refer to us as Rutger, stating we haven’t earned the “s” yet, embarrass themselves. Pity their ignorance for not realizing they are actually disrespecting a Revolutionary War hero. Let fools be fools.
As I’ve written before, Rutgers fans need to embrace the journey, which starts at the bottom of the Big Ten. We see all of the positive changes happening and it’s only a matter of time before our sports teams start to win. It’s going to take time and patience and a lot of taking hate on the chin. Let other fans be blinded by their hatred towards Rutgers, because when success does finally come, witnessing their shock and denial will only make victory even sweeter. Let the Big Ten fans hate Rutgers. It’s not going to ruin our seat at the table, only theirs.