Copyright 2014 Philadelphia Newspapers, LLC
All Rights Reserved
PISCATAWAY, N.J. - The expectations from the outside are low as Rutgers begins its first season as a Big Ten football team, but the future financial projections are much better.
In a writers' poll organized by Cleveland.com, Rutgers was picked to finish seventh and last in the Big Ten Eastern Division.
While Rutgers adjusts to the rugged competition, the school and its fans are excited about the benefits that being in the Big Ten will bring the football program. A program-record 30,721 football season tickets have been sold, breaking the old mark of 30,500 set in 2009. Rutgers High Point Solutions Stadium has a capacity of 52,454
The school has projected that over the next 12 years the increase in revenue from moving to the Big Ten will approach $200 million.
But like the team's adjustment to the competition, the financial boom will take some time.
Rutgers' chief financial officer, Janine Purcaro, said Rutgers has a six-year integration period before it will be able to receive full shares of the Big Ten broadcast revenues.
Each Big Ten school received about $25 million last year from the league, with the primary source coming from television. The Big Ten is giving Rutgers the same amount it got from the Big East. That total is about $10 million annually.
Rutgers competed in the Big East from 1991 until 2012 and played last year in the American Athletic Conference, which had many former Big East members.
There have been other immediate benefits to joining the Big Ten.
"We have seen an uptick in fund-raising contributions," Purcaro said. "People are showing a lot of excitement for the Big Ten."
The players are excited, too.
"It's a pretty big deal," said senior quarterback Gary Nova, who has started 28 games. "Growing up watching those programs play, you dream about playing those teams and things like that in those big stadiums. So having that opportunity will be great."
Paul James, a junior running back from Glassboro High and Rutgers' leading returning rusher, expressed similar sentiments.
"It's great playing in such a prestigious conference," James said. "We have the toughest schedule in the Big Ten, and I can't wait to be part of it."
As far as being in the Big Ten, third-year Rutgers head coach Kyle Flood has already seen the benefits on the recruiting trail.
Flood mentioned that being in the Big Ten surely helped the program with the additions of two freshmen - quarterback Giovanni Rescigno from Detroit and tight end Logan Lister of Katy, Texas - along with quarterback Hayden Rettig, a transfer from LSU who hails from Los Angeles.
"I don't know if those players would have had interest in playing in the Big East," Flood said. "But for the Big Ten, they are here."
One person who has a particularly keen outlook on joining the Big Ten is Rutgers' defensive backs coach, Darrell Wilson. A Pennsauken High graduate, Wilson later played in the CFL and NFL and was an assistant coach for 13 seasons in the Big Ten. In 2000 and 2001, he coached at Wisconsin and then spent the next 11 seasons at Iowa.
Wilson, a former head coach at Camden's Woodrow Wilson High, feels the Big Ten name will get Rutgers in the conversation with recruits.
"I really think it will, especially when talking in-state, and you tell recruits that they can play on a big stage and don't have to leave the state," Wilson said.
He feels there will be benefits when recruiting out-of-state players as well.
"This is big-time college football at its best," Wilson said. "Once the young men throughout the country realize that Rutgers is in the Big Ten, they will come."