A New Year & a New Era of Recruiting

Jan 1, 2013 | By: Mike Fasano

 

 

Tim Pernetti (hereinafter referred to as "Good Saint Tim") recently accepted Commissioner Jim Delaney's offer to have Rutgers jump to the Big 10 conference.

 

Wow!

 

Super Wow!

 

Mega Wow!

 

So let's talk about Boston College.

 

No, no, no. Hear me out. 

 

Yes, I know that I tend to rant about Boston College. But, now, there is good reason to talk about the Boston College Eagles.

 

You see, some years ago Boston College actually had a good athletic program. You may not remember that now, but it's true. In fact, when they left the Big East, they were really kicking butt in the ACC for a few years.

 

But now ....

 

Now, they finished the season at 2-10 - one of those two wins was over Maine.   

 

What happened?

 

How could they have fallen so low?

 

You see once Boston College left the Big East, they found themselves in an impossible position. They had no natural recruiting grounds and they competed in a conference which was located far away from the places where the did recruit.

 

This was a recipe for disaster.

 

For instance, at one time they recruited like crazy in North Jersey. They effectively owned Don Bosco. But over time they lost the ability to effectively recruit North Jersey since they no longer had exposure there - or anywhere near there. They played in the South ... or in New England, but not in New Jersey. The clout and impact that they once had in Jersey evaporated. 

 

And they could not really rely on talent from New England because there wasn't much talent there in the first place.

So they had to convince kids in the South that they should move to Boston so that they could play in the ACC.

 

Good luck with that.

 

The result was predictable.

 

The Boston College program went down the tubes.

 

Fast forward to 2012.

 

Now, can you think of any other teams which are "without natural recruiting grounds" and play in conferences far away?

 

Turns out that I can think of a couple. 

 

For instance, the West Virginia Mountaineers have no natural recruiting grounds and are now playing in a conference not just far, but really far away from their campus. They still have clout in South Jersey, but as that fades, they'll have to convince kids from Oklahoma, Arkansas and Texas to move to West Virginia so that they can play in the Big 12.

 

Trust me.

 

This will not go well.

 

Another team that comes to mind is Syracuse. They have no natural recruiting ground either. Now they'll have no exposure in New Jersey. No exposure in Long Island - where they recruit heavily. Yes, a glimmer of hope in recruiting Western Pennsylvania but generally they'll also be have to convince kids from the southern states and elsewhere to move to Syracuse so they can play on Tobacco Road.

 

I wish them good luck, because they are going to need it.

 

Now those teams are not totally lost.  With BC and Pitt and Syracuse all playing in the northeast again, there'll be at least be some exposure in the Western Pennsylvania's rich recruiting areas.

 

But overall these teams that used to rely on the Northeast's many recruiting grounds will become strangers in areas that they used to rely upon. West Virginia will have a hard time convincing South Jersey kids to sign on, when their closest away game is a thousand miles across the continent. Boston College has already forfeited most of its recruiting base in North Jersey. And the closest that Syracuse will get to Long Island is when they play in Chestnut Hill. These teams have all become strangers in the very areas that gave once gave them gridiron juice.

 

But this isn't true for Rutgers.

 

Rutgers' natural recruiting grounds are North Jersey, South Jersey, New York City, Long Island and Eastern Pennsylvania. Rich, fertile, abundant recruiting areas, brimming with talent.

 

And nothing has changed for Rutgers.

 

Rutgers is still here.

 

The only thing that went away is their competition.

 

Think about that for a second.

 

One of the richest recruiting areas in the country just turned into the private hunting preserve of the Scarlet Knights.

 

Now, I know people are saying, "but now will have to compete with the Big 10 for recruits."

 

Baloney.

 

I've lived all my life in Jersey. For years and years and years I remember turning on channel 7 in North Jersey on a Saturday afternoon and what would I  see? 

 

Rutgers?

 

No.

 

The Big East?

 

No.

 

I'd see Ohio State v. Indiana or Michigan vs. Michigan State or Penn State v. Minnesota.

 

If you live in the New York metro area, you are nodding your head right now. The Big 10 was here so much, it was infuriating.

 

So pleeease don't tell me that the Big 10 wasn't here - they've been  here all along.

And don't tell me that they haven't recruited Jersey, they've recruited Jersey for decades.

 

But there will be a difference now.

 

Flick on Channel 7 in New York now on a Saturday afternoon and it will be Michigan all right, but it will be Michigan vs. Rutgers. Click on Channel 6 in Philly and it will be Penn State alright, but it will be Penn State vs. Rutgers.

 

And it is more than just that - because something big is coming.

 

While the Big East had cobbled together a television network - no one but no one had ever seen anything like the Big Ten Network.

 

The Big Ten Network is marching into Metuchen, arriving in Allentown, waltzing into West Islip.  It will be making the scene in Summit.

 

In Manalapan, they'll be watching Maryland vs. Penn State. In Passaic, the Scarlet Knights will be slugging it out with Iowa. It'll be the same in Flushing, in Warminster, Mt. Laurel, Port Washington, Sicklerville and Scranton.

 

Rutgers won't just get exposure in its natural recruiting grounds, Rutgers will become the sports wallpaper adorning every residence for hundreds of miles in every direction.

 

Kids will grow up with that, seeing that, absorbing that, living that.

 

But the closest place that they can go to become a part of that will be ...

 

Rutgers.

 

That is what happened. The competition for Rutgers' recruits just flew the coop and the Knights got a megadose of media steroids.

 

So what does that mean?

 

People have said that Rutgers is like a sleeping giant.

 

I have another analogy.

 

Rutgers is like a rocket on a launch pad.

 

And do you know what just happened?

 

Jim Delaney showed up.

 

And he brought along a tanker full of rocket fuel.

 

Updated On: Jan 21, 2013 05:23 PM

 

 

 

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