Former quarterback Mike Teel is widely remembered for his part in Rutgers' historic 2006 season in which he helped lead the Scarlet Knights to an 11-2 record and a No.12 national ranking. The New Jersey native has been keeping a close eye on his former team and offered his thoughts on Rutgers' move to the Big Ten.
"I think it's tremendous. With the ever-changing landscape of college athletics in general, you kind of don't want to get left out per se," said Teel, who was at Rutgers from 2004-08. "The Big East has been trying to make some changes but for us to have a chance to play in one of the premiere conferences not only for football but for all sports, I think it's an unbelievable opportunity."
Things were a bit different when Teel, Rutgers' all-time leader in passing yards and passing touchdowns, was running the RU offense. Back then, a Big East team could legitimately play for a national championship.
Now that seems like a virtual impossibility as the conference seems to have lost any prestige it had during Teel's tenure.
"I think it has to do with the loss of so many teams even back when I first got to Rutgers, losing Boston College, Miami and now West Virginia, Syracuse and Pittsburgh," Teel said. "It's an ever-changing landscape and when you kind of lose those heavy hitters from the conference in both football and basketball, the perception is going to suffer. And the perception of the Big East was that it wasn't a super-strong football conference even though I think we were. But I don't think that was the national perception."
Teel also mentioned that he has been hearing quite a bit about a Rutgers move to the Big Ten.
"Not while I was there. Earlier this week I have. For the past two or three years, that's been the most logical landing place for us. If you look at where the Big Ten conference is and where they could expand geographically in the New York media market, I think it's a perfect fit for us and the Big Ten."
Having started a total of 42 games as Rutgers' quarterback, Teel knows a thing or two about game-week preparation. This week, the current Scarlet Knights are prepping for a game with Pittsburgh which will be followed by a regular season-finale just five days later against Louisville.
With all the Big Ten talk, it could could serve as a distraction to this year's team.
"I was thinking about that and I was trying to put myself in their position," Teel said. "Now for the first time there is a buzz about the football team that doesn't specifically talk about their game or the season that is going on, I'm trying to think how it would effect us. I know everyone in the media is asking the players about this. I would think it could create somewhat of a distraction. From what I have heard about the team with Coach Flood and Khaseem Greene and Scott Vallone, they have very strong leadership. Coach Flood is going to have them in the right mindset and the leaders are going to kind of force the issue of where everyone needs to be mentally."
Putting the Big Ten stuff aside, this season's campaign bears a striking resemblance to Teel's first full season as a starter.
"It reminds me a lot of 2006. From my perspective on the outside, if you get a bounce this way or that way early on in the year and you kind of gain some momentum," Teel explained. "I think the biggest thing is they are playing loose. They are out there having fun."
Follow Mike Teel on twitter @MTeel14.
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