Hey, Big Ten Conference — or for those of us who were taught numbers in first grade, Big Fourteen — how are you feeling now about having added ‘‘natural rival’’ Rutgers to your burgeoning crew in 2014?
Not only is Rutgers in New Jersey — which any of us who studied geography in second grade knows is adjacent to Minnesota and just west of Indiana — but it’s in a famous industrial region where Jimmy Hoffa is rumored to be buried in cement.
Rutgers has a football program that is bringing a little pizzazz to the formerly staid Big Ten (yes, there were only 10 teams back in 1990 and only 11 as recently as 2010 before the conference went on a full-tilt money and TV-revenue treasure hunt).
That is, five Rutgers players have been suspended after one was charged in two home invasions and four others were charged with assaulting a group of people back in April.
We get stuff like this all the time in big-time college football, but Rutgers is special because its clownish athletic director, Julie Hermann, was accused in the past of abusing volleyball players while a coach at Tennessee, was tied to a sexual-discrimination lawsuit while at Louisville and last year made a hilarious joke about Jerry Sandusky.
What’s also special about this Big Fourteen team is that its football coach, Kyle Flood, is under school investigation for having allegedly inquired about a player’s grades directly from the student’s professor. That’s a big no-no at real academic institutions.
But more than that, those alleged armed robberies were different in that, according to police, the home invasions also included a former Rutgers player, Tejay Johnson (like an alumni pal!), and the robbers reportedly carried a baseball bat and knives and wore masks while robbing the victims of marijuana and cash, at gunpoint. Oh, yeah, there was a gun in there, too.
But the masks do it for me. It was springtime, not even close to Halloween!
All five of the suspended players were starters, so that’s gotta hurt the Scarlet Knights a little bit.
But maybe that’s what the Big Fourteen was counting on: a patsy on the East Coast that could bring in TV viewers but not ever contend for anything.
In that case, well done.