As Rutgers prepares to officially join the Big Ten in less than a month, athletic director Julie Hermann is channeling an attraction in ACC and SEC country that she wants her football team's gameday experience to mimic.
Specifically, it's Disney World.
"What I can promise you, one of the things we're working on most, is when you come see us at ball games, starting with High Point Solutions Stadium, you have a world-class, Disney World experience," Hermann said at a Big R Tour stop last week via NJ.com. "That's important to us."
It's a curious statement from an athletic director who is starting to make a habit of them. In March, Hermann, who was hired in 2013, said it "would be great" if the New Jersey Star-Ledger newspaper went under. In November, she admitted she should have met with the family of former player Jevon Tyree earlier after he quit the team amidst allegations of bullying.
Hermann made the Disney World comparison when talking about improvements to the gameday experience at Rutgers. The school is building a basketball practice facility and also new football headquarters. Hermann has not elaborated on what improvements would be made for fans on game days, however, though it's doubtful that any plans involve a set of spinning teacups.
While a focus on the fan experience makes sense, Disney World obviously isn't the best comparison. It's known for people in costumes, rides and parades. Rutgers sports should be known for, well, sports. Right now, Rutgers athletics is known for ridiculousness.
Judging from the comments made to the Star-Ledger, there's plenty of things that can be made better at High Poiunt Solutions Stadium. But many of them are standard issues that other football programs face. When improving the wi-fi, no other schools make theme park comparisons.
Rutgers is switching conferences because of its proximity to New York City. There's no denying it. For the Big Ten experience to pay off immediately, Rutgers needs to be competitive, or at the very least, the school needs to not bring any negative attention to itself for a year or two. At this point, both things are easier said than done, but Rutgers should give it a good shot.
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