It’s almost the weekend, so let’s check in on how summer vacation is treating the Rutgers Scarlet Knights, commonly known around here as Rutger, or Buttgers. Are they getting ready for football season? Are they getting their gym, tanning, and laundry on? And are they just happy to be here in general?
Of course not!
Here’s a fun column from Steve Politi at NJ dot com today:
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
Let’s go through this future Pulitzer-winning column, line by line.
It's official: Rutgers got a lousy deal from the Big Ten
Let’s rephrase that:
It's official: The Big Ten got a lousy deal from Rutgers.
Ahh, much better!
Let's be clear on this from the start: This is not a second guess.
So then why is this column even being written?
Back in November 2012, Jim Delany could have demanded anything from Rutgers officials and they would have agreed with a smile -- and understandably so.
They’d still agree to that deal today. Rutgers, by all accounts, always seemed like a reach to be in the Big Ten, and pretty much everyone not named Jim Delany was frustrated and confused from the start. Rutgers could still be in the AAC right now, going 5-7 for eternity. Instead, they get to host Michigan or Ohio State once a year, instead of never.
Delany: "We'll accept you into the Big Ten, but only if you change the name of the university to Jim Delany's Awesome Intergalactic Starfleet Academy and speak nothing but Vulcan."
Rutgers: "Fan-vel du aitlun, khart-lan!"
All I can say is that this realignment caused Big Ten teams to boldly go where no one in the conference had gone before: Piscataway, New Jersey.
The longtime Big Ten commissioner is a master dealmaker, and during those negotiations, he had all the leverage. Any deal to get out of the American Athletic Conference and into the nation's premier conference, especially when it looked like the music would stop in the conference realignment game without the Scarlet Knights finding a chair, was one that they had to take.
As I wrote back then: Rutgers just wanted a lifeboat and ended up on a Carnival cruise ship.
And much like a Carnival cruise ship, the other Big Ten teams are now covered in poop as a result.
Still, four and a half years later, it is impossible not to look at the financial details and not conclude that Delany gave Rutgers a lousy deal -- and it's one that is making it harder for Rutgers to build the infrastructure necessary to truly compete in its new league.
This was never part of the terms of the agreement. Delany didn’t bring Rutgers on because he thought they’d be competitive, or even in the interest of making them competitive. Rutgers is here for one and only one reason: to make himself and other schools in the Big Ten rich. So it looks like his plan has worked out perfectly thus far.
Big Ten rival Michigan
Ahh of course, that famous Rutger rival Michigan, against whom the games are always close.
revealed this week that, thanks to the league's new TV contract, it is expecting a payout of $51.1 million from the conference in 2017-18. That is the same chunk of cash that Ohio State, Indiana, Illinois and the rest will add to their coffers.
Wait hold up. Indiana is getting $51 million from the conference next year too? That’s neat!
But not Rutgers. The Scarlet Knights are projected to get just $11.6 million. As the athletic department races to build the facilities needed to compete in the conference, it will receive just one-fifth of the revenue that its well-heeled rivals are banking.
Actually, you could make the argument that with what Rutger brings to the conference, getting one-fifth of the revenue of other B1G teams is pretty generous. The Scarlet Knights have gone 6-48 in basketball in the B1G in the past three years. Football? They’re 4-21. In four of their nine conference games last year, Rutger wasn’t even able to put up a single point.
Maryland’s getting a similar payout as Rutger right now and also had a new coach last year. They made a bowl game and have made the NCAA tournament all three years since joining the B1G. They also just won a national title in lacrosse and went 32-3 in women’s hoops. Don’t come around and make this argument about crying poor, Rutger.
That will change in the coming years, of course. Rutgers will get $14.9 million in 2018-19 and $19.3 million in 2019-20, and then -- finally -- it will get a full share of that revenue pie in 2020-21.
All will be forgotten then. But if that projected $51.1 million payout stays the same the next three years, the 11 established conference members (not counting other relative newcomers Maryland and Nebraska) will have pocketed $177 million more over the six-year transitional period than Rutgers.
And that doesn’t even scratch the surface of how much these B1G members made before Rutger arrived in the Big Ten.
Given that the league's new $2.64 billion TV deal probably doesn't happen without the foothold in the New York market that Rutgers gave the Big Ten Network,
Ahh yes, that famous foothold in the New York market that Rutger has. I’ve been to NYC a lot. Penn State, Michigan, Ohio State - hell, even Indiana and Nortwestern - have larger footholds in the Big Apple than Rutger does.
you could argue that the 78-0 loss to Michigan is not the most lopsided result for the Scarlet Knights since joining the conference.
Did you know Jabrill Peppers - who happens to be from New Jersey - had a very good game for Michigan in that 78-0 rout of Rutger? It’s true!
"In terms of the financial integration, there's the academic, there's the competitive, and there's the financial. And those deals were agreed upon at the time," Delany said last summer when asked about potentially renegotiating the deal. "They're all a little bit different (between Rutgers, Maryland and Nebraska). Everybody was kept whole from where they came.
"But the deals that were negotiated were all negotiated on the basis of keep us whole, keep you whole, and after six years of being a member of the Big Ten, you'll then become a full financial member."
Again, then why is this column even being written in the first place? Rutger got a lifeboat, and now they’re complaining that the lifeboat wasn’t big enough? The Scarlet Knights were the clear winner of the conference expansion sweepstakes - be thrilled you’re in the Big Ten and getting 20% of what the other schools are right now, instead of 5-10%.
You have to hand it to Delany. As the critics were snickering about adding Rutgers, he was positioning the Big Ten to become richer and even more powerful as the college landscape shifted. He has earned every penny of a $20 million bonus he is set to receive -- which, of course, is more than Rutgers will get in any of the first six years in the league.
Capitalism! I’m no Jim Delany fan but it kind of rules that one man is getting more from an athletic conference than AN ENTIRE UNIVERSITY.
(P.S. This is an absurd bonus and the NCAA needs to pay the players already - don’t tell me the money isn’t there.)
Rutgers is part of his fiefdom now, and in the long-term, the Scarlet Knights will reap the benefits of these massive paydays. For now, though, they're lining up against Michigan and Ohio State with one-fifth of the revenue from the league. At least Delany didn't demand to rename the place.
But we are demanding a rename, and until further notice, Rutger, you have yet to earn the S.