Rutgers embarks on its Big Ten life July 1, 2014, and there will be decades of memories made. There will also be only a few "first," and ScarletReport.com takes a look at the Top Five Firsts when Rutgers is an official Big Ten member.
5. July 1, 2014: It's real, folks. It's real. Rutgers will officially become a member of the Big Ten on this date, and to celebrate it is throwing a Block Party at High Point Solutions Stadium. The event runs 7-9 p.m., and will feature Big Ten commission Jim Delany as a speaker. It may not be a cheer and go crazy type of event, but to take a deep breath, look around, smile and nod quietly at the accomplishment of being in the best athletic and academic conference in the nation. Out of the smoldering ash of the Big East and rickety AAC, Rutgers emerged as the biggest lottery winner in re-alignment, and this is a day to enjoy it.
4. Winter 2015: The date is not yet set but Rutgers will visit Indiana for men's basketball during the 2014-15 season, which means a 2015 game in famed Assembly Hall in Bloomington, Ind. It holds 17,472 fans, was build in 1971 and was home legendary coach Bob Knight. It is the sports life-blood of the area, and seeing the Hoosiers in their traditional pre-game garb and unmistakable uniforms will give Rutgers fans a warm, fuzzy feeling of being involved in the exclusive men's basketball club known as the Big Ten.
3. Nov. 7, 2015: Rutgers will have played 13 Big Ten conference football games and been in the league for 16 months, but it will still be a "pinch me" moment when the Scarlet Knights line up for kickoff at The Big House. Nothing says Big Ten football like a game at Michigan Stadium in front of 110,000 or so. Think about the patch of red in a sea of maize and blue, and the Scarlet Knights being on the field. It was something to behold when Rutgers played at Notre Dame in under Terry Shea and Greg Schiano, and it will be surreal to see this vision for the first time as well.
2. Sept. 13, 2014: If John Marrinatto or Mike Aresco were making the decisions, Rutgers' first conference game would be against Purdue or Minnesota. Thankfully, Jim Delaney is calling the shots, and that means the first time Rutgers plays a Big Ten game, it will against Penn State. If it wasn't enough to have Penn State casting a shadow over New Jersey for decades while Joe Paterno was the coach, the fury is alive and well as Nittany Lions coach James Franklin has come in and plucked prime recruits right out from under Rutgers' nose. And since Penn State's presence is so strong in New Jersey, look for a nice mix of Scarlet Knights and Nittany Lions fans, not to mention a record attendance at High Point Solutions Stadium.
1. TBD: Who knows when it will happen, but now that Rutgers is in a big-time conference, there will be a moment the ESPN crew rolls into Piscataway, sets up shop just outside the north edge of High Point Solutions Stadium and broadcasts the planet's most popular tailgate show. Don't rule out the Penn State game, but also keep in mind it may be a few years down the road.
However, with a Big Ten schedule and a schedule no longer filled with South Florida, Connecticut, Temple, SMU and Cincinnati, the changes of getting College Game Day on campus grows exponentially. Just get Rutgers some wins and rolls the trucks in.