Much has changed at Rutgers since Ohio State defensive coordinator Greg Schiano coached there from 2001-2011.
The biggest change, of course, is that Rutgers, where Ohio State will play tonight, is now a Big Ten team. It is a struggling team in the two most high profile sports – football and men’s basketball. But it is still in the Big Ten and collecting a sizable check from the Big Ten network annually.
There have been other changes, too, not the least of which is that what was Rutgers Stadium is now High Point Solutions Stadium.
High Point Solutions, an internet services company, agreed to write a check for $650,000 a year for 10 years and Rutgers said it could put its name on the stadium for a decade.
While selling naming rights is not as common in college as at the professional level, it is starting to happen more and more.
The most lucrative college deals so far have been USC selling naming rights to United Airlines for $4.7 million a year for 15 years and the University of Washington getting $4.1 million a year for 10 years from Alaska Airlines.
Hopefully each player will be allowed two carry-ons and won’t be charged $25 per duffel bag every time he goes into the stadium by those airline sponsors.
In the pros, the Dallas Cowboys reportedly receive between $17 million and $19 million a year from AT&T for stadium naming rights. And the Texas Rangers will get $11 million through 2048 from Globe Life Insurance for their naming rights on their new stadium.
In the Big Ten, two other schools have sold naming rights – Minnesota to TCF Bank and Maryland to Capital One Financial Corporation.
The USC and Washington deals could be signaling a change in the college naming rights landscape.
Until now, most of the naming rights deals were signed by second-tier football schools, like Houston, Kentucky, Boise State, North Texas and Central Florida.
If the Power Five conferences move into the naming rights game, two things will happen. Most of the money will flow to them instead of to the smaller schools and the price to put a name on a stadium will rise.
Speaking of big numbers, that has been Rutgers’ history most of the times it has played upper level Big Ten football teams.
Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State outscored the Scarlet Knights 175-0 last season. OSU has won 56-17, 49-7 and 58-0 the three times it has played Rutgers since it entered the Big Ten in 2014.
Everyone at Ohio State, starting with Urban Meyer, insists Rutgers is improved this year in former Ohio State assistant Chris Ash’s second season as its head coach.
It’s true Rutgers did stay close to before losing 30-14 to Washington and 27-17 to Nebraska, but it had two Big Ten losses by a touchdown or less last season when it won only two games. And a 16-13 loss to Eastern Michigan this season had more than a few Rutgers fans questioning if Ash was the right man for the job.
If Rutgers is better anywhere, it is on defense where it ranks sixth in the Big Ten in total defense, one spot ahead of Ohio State Offensively, it is thirteenth in the Big Ten, ahead of only Illinois.
Rutgers quarterback Kyle Bolin has thrown twice as many interceptions as touchdowns. Its leading rusher averages 67 yards a game and its top returning receiver from last year was suspended for the opener and hasn’t caught a pass yet this season.
Even if the Scarlet Knights play lights out defense against the Buckeyes tonight, they can’t score enough points to make this one any closer than OSU’s wins over Army and UNLV the last two weeks.
The prediction: Ohio State 42, Rutgers 14.
Reach Jim Naveau at 567-242-0414 or on Twitter at @Lima_Naveau.
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