In the ongoing battle to become New York's college sports team, the Scarlet Knights are about to become significantly more visible with the arrival of the Big Ten in the Big Apple.
"It's really exciting to be New York City's Big Ten football team," said Rutgers football coach Kyle Flood at the inaugural 2014 R B1G Tour event in Manhattan. "I think we have proven over time that we are the college football team that moves the needle in New York City. That's well-documented. That will only become greater now with the schedule we have going forward."
Rutgers' first opportunity to push the needle to its breaking point comes in week three when Penn State comes to Piscataway live on the Big Ten Network.
Flood makes sure to keep his locker room's eyes set on Washington State, but he had a different message for the hundreds of fans and boosters at the Public House last night.
"We have a team from Pennsylvania coming to our house," Flood said while on the microphone. "I've had a lot of questions about that game. This is what I would tell you: Make sure you've got a good seat."
The Penn State game has every fan's attention, and Flood hopes to see a rivalry grow.
"I think the fans are excited about it, and I think they should be excited about it," Flood said. "To have that as the opener for the [conference] season, we've got a lot of work to do before that. We've got some really challenging games before that, but it's probably fitting that that's the Big Ten opener."
Flood and recently embattled Penn State coach James Franklin have a long-standing relationship in Northeastern coaching circles.
The pair have clashed in the battles for more than a dozen recruits since Franklin's hire, and meet on the High Point Solutions Stadium turf Sept. 13 at 8 p.m.
"James was the first coach to call and congratulate me when I became the head coach at Rutgers," Flood said. "James and I are about the same age, both came through coaching in the Northeast and the East Coast for the most part, so we have a lot of mutual acquaintances."
The Big Ten schedule may start with Penn State, but it gets even tougher later in the year. Rutgers, which went 6-7 in 2013, faces one of the toughest strength of schedules in the country based on wins and losses from last season.
"We're conscious of what the schedule is and we're excited about the challenge of competing for an eastern division championship," Flood said. "It gives you a chance to be the Big Ten champion, and then move forward into the Final Four. I know if you talk to the players and the coaches in our program, we're really excited about the challenges ahead of us."