Rutgers University is joining the Big Ten any day now! You probably knew this already, and like most people from the midwest, you're wondering how a school from New Jersey is going to fit into the the Big Ten Conference. You most likely know nothing about Rutgers because they're not a football powerhouse, nor are they particularly great at any high profile sport.
Rutgers is located in New Jersey. I've never been to New Jersey. I know two things about the state. It's the butt of a whole lot of jokes, and Bruce Springsteen. I've seen Springsteen in concert a few times. Make fun of the Boss and you'll get this response: "Let's see your favorite performer do a four-hour show. No? What, they worked really hard for 30-45 minutes? Wow. Piss off, then."
School name: Rutgers University
Location: Piscataway Township, New Jersey
Mascot/nickname: Rutgers University Scarlet Knight
School colors: Scarlet
Distance from Lincoln: 1,288 miles - roughly 20 hour drive along I-80
Enrollment: 58,788 (2012)
Founded: November 10, 1766 - The eighth-oldest higher ed institution. Note that it was founded before the Revolution.
Since we wanted to know so much more about Rutgers, we asked the guys from SBNation's site OnTheBanks.com a bunch of questions that may or may not reveal more pertinent information about our new conference mates.
Some day I might make it to New Jersey, although I'm not sure why. Maybe to fight in the upcoming zombie apocalypse.
Who the hell are you people? How do we refer to you? Rutgerians? Red Knights? New Jerseyites?
BC: New Jerseyans is the preferred form. As for those who attended Rutgers, it's....uh....it's.....well....uh, I went to Rutgers.
Kevin Recio: Yup, New Jerseyans is the technical term, although as I've travelled away from the state, people have referred to residents as either a "Jersey Boy" or a "Jersey Girl." I never had a problem with it. As for Rutgers grads, I've seen "Loyal Son" (and I guess Loyal Daughter, but never seen that before) as a term of endearment.
Husker fans love their collegiate sports. It's not just football. The volleyball team sells out in around an hour every season, and the baseball team is typically in the top 25 in attendance in the nation.
Rank your sports by popularity, and please comment on the sports your fan base loves/ignores/wants to start/wants to go away.
BC: Well, in the last 10-15 years, football has become primary. Unfortunately, as has been documented ad nauseum, the NY-NJ area focuses a lot on the pro teams in NYC and for south Jersey in Philly. But Rutgers can gain attention -- but just like the pros, you better win. If you go back to the 60's-70's, we were a basketball school. Crazy.
Other sports? Well, see above. But Wrestling has been doing well, of late. Without checking, I believe we beat you folks last season. We should be competitive in the B1G.
KR: Wrestling is enjoying a renaissance and ticket sales have done pretty well the past couple of seasons. New Jersey is a hotbed of lacrosse talent, and while the sport's exponential growth in popularity has stagnated somewhat, it remains a popular activity for the residents, so the men's lacrosse team enjoys decent crowds.
Men's swimming & diving and men's tennis would be great to have back, but I doubt they'll be revived in the near future. Also, I'm a big New Jersey Devils fan, so it would be really cool if Rutgers started a varsity hockey program (pipe dream though).
What is your attitude towards Nebraska?
BC: As someone wrote in a comment regarding NE, items in the state are flatter than they appear. I like corn. And beef. And your colors go well with ours. Next question.
KR: As far as the University of Nebraska, my attitude towards the football program is that it is a blue-blood program whose fanbase is waiting for the inevitable return to a dynasty. Whether or not the Huskers actually get there is the question. When I think of college football in the ‘90s, I think of Nebraska. Tommie Frazier's run where he breaks approximately 38 tackles is burned into my memory.
Whats the feeling for now having to literally go halfway across the country just for a conference game?
BC: I don't think it's an issue. In The American, we were going to Houston, Memphis, and would be doing more with the new additions. If you're going to travel, at least go some place that has a team worth seeing.
KR: We almost had Boise State and San Diego State as members of the Big East, sooooo I can tell you Rutgers fans won't mind at all if it means playing a Nebraska or Wisconsin.
Now, take any reference to the Cornhuskers, football, collegiate sports, and think about the state. Now, what is your attitude towards Nebraska?
BC: Your mascot looks like a runaway from Bob's Big Boy. I like corn. And beef. Can we eat now?
KR: I've never been to Nebraska and haven't read a great deal about the state, so I don't really have an attitude regarding the home of Cornhusker football. I do like the song Nebraska by Bruce Springsteen, which also is the title track of the album. It's about teenager Charles Starkweather, who went on an 11-person killing spree with his girlfriend in 1958.
WHAT THE HELL IS LACROSSE AND HOW DO WE GET ONE?
BC: Lacrosse is a city in Wisconsin, 22.54 sq miles, population 51,647. But you meant the sport. The origin, I believe is Native American. You don't want one. That will give Rutgers something on you guys.
KR: If you want to keep your midwestern roots, you might want to just skip with lacrosse. It's mainly a Northeast game, with pockets in Denver and California (Canadians also love to play it when there's no ice to play hockey during the month of July).
How much do you hate Texas and why?
BC: They killed our president.
KR: A history not worthy of the prestige bestowed upon them? The idiotic Longhorn Network? The Alamo? To be honest I'm indifferent towards Texas, so anything that happens down there in Friday Night Lights land is not on my radar.
Whats your BBQ preference and why?
BC: BBQ in NJ and BBQ beyond the Mississippi (or below the Mason-Dixon) are different animals. Literally. I like chicken, steak, Italian sausage (screw the brats and Wisconsin).
KR: If OTB ever comes to visit, you'll have to school me on BBQ, because I'm not well-versed in the different types. North Carolina, Kansas City, and Texas have different styles? Is that correct? How about I like anything but a Texas-style BBQ, does that work?
Will you be able to use that East Coast Bias to benefit the Big Ten?
KR: I don't doubt it. The one thing I know about the East Coast, specifically the New York City metro, is that they love winners. If Rutgers can figure out this whole football thing and put together a championship season, the people will come in droves. That's just the nature of playing near the Big Apple. Anyway, there are a huge number of B1G alums around NYC and DC, so there are plenty of positives to be had.
What sport will you be able to compete immediately in the B1G, and what are you wincing at?
BC: Wrestling, baseball, soccer (probably men and women), women's basketball.
KR: Baseball, men's lacrosse, and both soccer teams are coming off good seasons with young talent. I think they have a chance to do fairly well in the B1G. Wrestling is doing really great, but I'm cautiously optimistic since the B1G is stupid-good at the sport. Women's basketball won the WNIT with a young squad, so there's hope that head coach C. Vivian Stringer can bring the team back to the NCAA next season.
What am I wincing at? Men's basketball might have a tough go, and I'm not sure on the other olympic sports.
Is William Dowling still an issue at Rutgers? If so, introduce him to Nebraska fans. If not, disregard this question.
BC: William Dowling is a notable English professor at Rutgers who started a group called the RU 1000. Its purpose was to push for a return to "participatory athletics" (read Division 3) and no scholarships. We're in the Big Ten now. Think he's an issue?
KR: Yea, I think Dowling lost the fight to reduce the influence of college athletics at the State University of New Jersey.