Rutgers Steps Up to the Football Big Leagues

Moving to the Big Ten in 2014 will boost revenues and, Rutgers hopes, football

It isn't every day when college football is a story in these parts, but it also isn't every day that a school from our neck of the woods joins the Big Ten. 

Along with Maryland, New Jersey's Rutgers state university is set to join the venerable league as it expands to 14 teams in 2014. 

There are three main areas where this move could have impact. The first is the only one without any hypotheticals and the main driving force behind the whole thing: money. 

Rutgers will say this will boost the football program, and it might, but they are making the move because they stand to generate a lot more revenue by rubbing shoulders with Michigan and Ohio State.

The difference could be in the tens of millions per year for the Scarlet Knights, which will come in handy whether or not the team actually improves on the football field. And the Big Ten gets entry into the New York market by adding Rutgers to the mix, which should boost the price for their television rights when they come up for renewal. 

That leads us to the second area of intrigue, which is the possibility of big-time college football in our area. Rugers has been a solid program since Greg Schiano's days at the school, but its impact on the local sports landscape ranks only slightly higher than luge. 

The best guess is that it remains there. Playing teams like Michigan, Penn State and Wisconsin should lead to some attendance bumps because of their massive alumni bases in the area, but the idea that Rutgers is suddenly going to become a player on the sports scene is a fairly far-fetched one. 

You need only look at Chicago to see how this likely plays out. Northwestern has a good program with some success, but their games hardly turn the city or its suburbs purple on fall Saturdays.

New York and the surrounding areas draw people from far too many different places for a school in relatively out-of-the-way New Brunswick to become a magnet for anyone who wasn't already interested in their results. College football rules in places where it is the only game in town and that will never be the case in our area. 

Finally, there's the question of where this leaves the Big East. With much speculation that UConn will be headed to the ACC to replace Maryland, the league that changed college basketball is left with only a skeleton of what it once was. 

Syracuse and Boston College are already gone, as are later additions like West Virginia and Virginia Tech. That leaves a mish-mosh of basketball only schools alongside far-flung football school desperate for a piece of the BCS pie. The hoops should still be good, but football is the driver of major collegiate sports and the Big East is already an insignificant player on that stage.

This move will make them even less significant and could wind up taking some more luster away from the basketball side of things. The glory that is the Big East tournament at the Garden is going to feel a lot different now that there are only a handful of original members vying for the crown. 

It's a good move for Rutgers and a sensible one for the Big Ten, but the continued devolution of the Big East will be the lasting legacy of this change for the area.

Josh Alper is also a writer for Pro Football Talk. You can follow him on Twitter.

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