If Rutgers receives an invitation from the Big Ten, the university will not need the approval of the Rutgers Board of Governors to join the conference, The Newark Star-Ledger reported. Rutgers athletic director Tim Pernetti has been authorized to accept a possible bid, according to the Star-Ledger.
Rutgers, which joined the Big East in 1991, has never won a conference championship in football. With victories in their final two conference games, however, the Scarlet Knights will win the Big East title outright. The No. 21 Scarlet Knights face Pittsburgh on the road on Saturday, before a highly anticipated showdown vs. No. 19 Louisville on Nov. 29.
“I'm not (distracted) when you have the opportunity as a coach, as a player, to do something that's never been done in the history of your program,” Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood said Monday. “The football people in this building are focused on one thing, and that is trying to be 1-0 against Pitt. We have very qualified people on campus led by Tim Pernetti that will handle everything else.”
Big Ten commissioner Jim Delany said on Monday that the Big Ten will open an office on the East Coast, in a story first reported by SI.com. When asked about the possibility of Rutgers becoming the 14th member of the Big Ten, Delany declined to comment.
Maryland's departure and Rutgers' potential move could create a domino effect for the Big East. CBSSports.com National College Football Insider Jeremy Fowler reported that the ACC is engaged in talks with several schools to replace Maryland, including Connecticut, Louisville, Cincinnati and South Florida.
Louisville reportedly expressed interest in joining the Big 12 after Texas A&M and Missouri agreed to join the SEC last fall. West Virginia left the Big East for the Big 12 after the 2011-12 season.
“I want to be in the Big East forever,” Louisville basketball coach Rick Pitino said during his Monday press conference. “If I was the ACC I would jump at Louisville. If I'm the Big East I would do everything humanly possible to keep Louisville. I think the Big 12 really missed the boat -- this place in football has the most potential I've seen for upside of any program in the country.”
If Rutgers joins the Big Ten for the 2014-15 season, the Big East could have 16 members in basketball. There are seven Catholic schools in the Big East -- Marquette, DePaul, Georgetown, St. John's, Seton Hall, Providence and Villanova -- that aren't members of the conference in football. Five others -- SMU, Central Florida, Houston, Temple and Memphis -- are scheduled to join the Big East in all sports for the 2013-2014 season.
Notre Dame announced in September that it will join the ACC in all sports but football.
“Somewhere along the line, all those catholic schools may just get tired of all this nonsense and say ‘Listen, we've had enough of you football schools -- we're just going to break up and form our own great basketball league,'” Pitino added. “That's the danger of it all.”
The latest developments could also impede ongoing negotiations for a new Big East television contract. The Big East began a 60-day exclusive negotiating window with ESPN on Sept. 1, but ESPN.com reported last month that the network would not reach a deal with the conference during the period.
CBSSports.com Senior College Football Columnist Dennis Dodd, via industry sources, has reported that a new contract could garner approximately $5.7 to $7.1 million per school, per year. The conference is also reportedly considering negotiations with the NBC Sports Network once the window expires, according to multiple reports.
Boise State and San Diego State are scheduled to join the conference as football-only members at the start of the 2013-14 season; Navy is expected to join the conference in football-only in 2015-2016. Boise State, San Diego State and BYU have had discussions with the Mountain West on returning to the conference, ESPN reported.
While those intimately involved in conference realignment eagerly anticipate the next move, one former Rutgers star has largely been ignoring the developments. When ex-Scarlet Knights WR Kenny Britt was asked Monday about Rutgers' potential move to the Big Ten, the Tennessee Titans' wideout said it was the first he had heard of it.
“I'm excited to see what we can do,” said Britt, who played at Rutgers from 2006-2008. “We had a good run since my freshman year, so hopefully we can do something in a different conference.”
Former Rutgers CB Jason McCourty, who is also with the Titans, indicated that the program is being rewarded for its ascension among the college football ranks over the past several seasons.
“They'll just move from the Big East and start to dominate the Big Ten,” McCourty said.
For more up-to-the-minute news and analysis on the Big East, follow bloggers Evan Hilbert and Matt Rybaltowski @CBSBigEast.