Rutgers is officially on board as the 14th member of the Big Ten, announcing its move earlier today.
Rutgers will leave the Big East and join the Big Ten in the 2014-15 school year with Maryland. Rutgers has been a member of the Big East since 1991.
“As a response to the changing landscape in college athletics, we are excited to welcome Rutgers into the Big Ten Conference,” MSU athletic director Mark Hollis said in a released statement.
“Both Maryland and Rutgers provide an opportunity to expand the Big Ten brand into markets that are expansive and important to Big Ten institutions. I look forward to the integration process that will provide benefits for our student-athletes, staff and most importantly those that enjoy and support Big Ten sports.”
In Rutgers, the Big Ten is getting a football program that has gone to a bowl in six of the past seven seasons. The Scarlet Knights are 9-1 this season and ranked 18th in the BCS standings.
A few of MSU’s coaches addressed the expansion today.
“I think expansion is basically what I talked about last year or two years ago at this time when we talked about Nebraska coming in,” MSU football coach Mark Dantonio said. “I think that’s the nature of society these days. It’s the bigger mergers, the bigger expansion that people are doing to try to consolidate things, trying to make things better. I think that’s what the Big Ten is trying to do.
“It grabs two big population bases on the East Coast. Where that affects Michigan State, we’ve recruited on the East Coast, had success there. I know when I was here before, I recruited the Maryland, D.C. area. We had Sorie Kanu, Julian Peterson, Desmond Thomas, just right off the bat that I can think of that came here and were tremendous players for us.”
Dantonio declined to address the possibility of the Big Ten going to a nine-game conference schedule for football.
MSU quarterback Andrew Maxwell believes the expansion shows the attractiveness of the conference.
“The people who are looking for new conferences are attracted to the Big Ten and I think that’s good for the conference and the schools that are in it,” he said.
MSU women’s basketball coach Suzy Merchant sees the expansion bolster the Big Ten for her sport.
“Maryland and Rutgers are very, very good women’s basketball programs,” Merchant said. “(Maryland is a) great program. (Maryland coach Brenda Frese) does an amazing job
“… What can you say about (Rutgers coach) Vivian Stringer. She is one of the best coaches in the country and one of the true matriarchs or our sport and she has a lot of respect from all of us for the things she’s endured over her career. It’s exciting to see that kind of quality of programs come into our league. It benefits the Big Ten.”
MSU volleyball coach Cathy George, who has her team in position to earn a bid for the NCAA Tournament, is waiting to see how the move impacts her team.
“I’m sure it’s going to affect things in terms of scheduling. Volleyball has done a double round-robin and we really enjoy that because typically the Big Ten has seven or eight teams in the NCAA Tournament and we feel that is from the wars we have in the double round-robin. How that affects us in the future, we don’t know. I’m sure we have to draw up new schedules and figure out how that plays into effect.”
Also today, former Spartan quarterback Brian Hoyer and receiver Plaxico Burress were signed by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both agreed to one-year deals.
Hoyer spent his first three seasons with the New England Patriots before being released in the offseason. He has completed 27 of 43 passes for 286 yards and a TD while appearing in 13 games during his career.
Burress began his career with the Steelers. He had 45 catches for 612 yards and eight TDs for the Jets last season but wasn’t picked up by any team during the offseason.