Rutgers Scarlet Knights
Rutgers move to the Big Ten has been both a performance and institutional issue. We have documented in the past how the Scarlet Knights athletic program has been less than stellar in its conduct since joining the Big Ten, so much so that some consider whether Rutgers should be kicked out of the Big Ten for showing such a lack of institutional integrity.
Players were arrested for assault, their head coach was in a debacle that led to his dismissal, and the athletic director was less than stellar at her job. These issues seemed at the very least hidden when the Knights were leading the way in the mid-2000s under Greg Schiano in the Big East. Rutgers made five straight bowls from 2005-09 and won four of those bowls, including a special 11-2 2006 season that had Rutgers finish #12 in the country. Obviously, the Big East was a very different game than what the Big Ten was going to bring. Not only have the Scarlet Knights not reached the success they did in their former conference, but many speculate the addition of the school was solely to bring in the New York market for the Big Ten more than adding quality to the conference like the Nebraska addition did.
One quick anecdote regarding the basketball “program”: the Scarlet Knights haven’t reached the NCAA Tournament since 1991 and have only won three games in Big Ten play. The basketball team doesn’t look like it has a prayer in the newly minted Big Ten Conference that has been consistently touted as the best basketball conference in the country. Rutgers in basketball has even less hope than a football team that has to face MSU, OSU, and Michigan every year. Yikes.
West Virginia Mountaineers
West Virginia was a very odd addition for the Big XII after the conference lost Missouri, Texas A&M, Colorado, and Nebraska. Geographically speaking, the move made absolutely no sense and seemed to put the West Virginia program in a difficult spot, specifically for travel purposes.
The football team hasn’t been able to match the incredible success of new Big XII member TCU and have been in the middle of the pack of the Big XII since they joined in 2012. The Mountaineers have finished no better than 8-5 and have only had one season with a winning record against Big XII competition. This is far removed from the days of Rich Rodriguez, Pat White, Steve Slaton and Chris Henry. Rodriguez had really molded the Mountaineers program into a high-powered offensive football program with three straight top ten finishes from 2005-07. They ran the Big East during his tenure and were consistently a team to be reckoned with on the national stage. Dana Holgorsen simply hasn’t recaptured the magic Rich Rod had brought to Morgantown and looks like he is on his way out if he finishes with another season with just seven or eight wins.
Despite moving to a far less crowded conference in basketball, head coach Bob Huggins hasn’t been able to equal the success he had while being a member of the Big East. He made the NCAA Tournament five years in a row between 2007-12 with a 2010 Final Four appearance sandwiched in between. After joining up with the likes of traditional powers Kansas and Oklahoma and rising programs Baylor and Iowa State, WVU wasn’t the same. Huggins’ first two years were particularly rough going just 30-35 overall, but have appeared to flip the script, going a collective 51-19 over the last two seasons with appearances in the dance and ranking as high as No. 6 in the polls.
West Virginia has been a very solid two-sport school since 2000 but the move to the Big XII has brought on hard times for the Mountaineers. Maybe it can be credited to the ridiculous travel schedule, or maybe it could simply be the change of scenery.