Hey guys! First off, let me say I’m a long-time lurker (started regularly reading around Shaqmas) and this is my first post. Being a slow day at work, I think it’s time I get active and share a story from this weekend.
Saturday, I was at a wedding which conveniently started at 4pm... Some Rutgers alums and I were pretty easy to spot due to constantly (and inappropriately) checking our phones. When trading barbs at the reception, I brought up what mdak06 said regarding Rutgers/Arkansas broadcasting on ESPN while UMD/WVU was put on ESPNU (and that it made no sense given the choices between “(A) an ACC vs. Big 12 matchup in an NFL stadium that has two long-time rivals facing each other for the 50th time, or… (B) an SEC team picked to finish last in its division vs. an AAC team in a series that has a grand total of ONE game”).
I argued it was based on the lack of respect for the Terps, but one of the Rutgers fans had a different take… he said it stemmed from even less respect for Rutgers. Pretty much no one outside of NJ was giving Rutgers a chance to win. His hypothesis was the selection was a calculated move by ESPN to humiliate Rutgers on national television. ESPN signed a 20-year deal with the SEC to start a TV network next year. The goal was to maximize coverage of one of the lowest ranking SEC members embarrassing a future B1G team, thus publically displaying the disparity in the level of competition between the future rival networks. Midway through the 3rd when Arkansas led 24-7 it seemed ESPN was getting their wish. It didn’t exactly backfire since an exciting game meant ESPN won anyway, but I thought it was an interesting theory none-the-less.
I’m not sure if there are any more regular season opportunities to confirm the hypothesis, but I’ll definitely be keeping my eye out for similar circumstances come bowl season. What do you guys think?
Either way, I’m really warming up to the B1G. Judging by the trash talk at the wedding, I think we’re going to develop some intense rivalries in the near future. Provided everyone is competitive in football, I’m thinking the animosity will be especially palpable with Penn State and Rutgers. They will replace Virginia/NC State-type rivalries quite nicely while Ohio State and Michigan should provide the same opportunities as Clemson and FSU. I would expect basketball rivals will reveal themselves after a few tight games.