Big Ten Weather:

the Resniak Interview

ARR: Senator Resniak, one point you raised is that getting Rutgers into the Big Ten conference has been responsible for a rise in the SAT scores of entering classes.

Resniak: That's right. SAT scores are up.

ARR: But what's that got to do with the Big Ten?

Resniak: (puzzled) What do you mean? We got into the Big Ten. The SAT scores go up. What else could it be?

ARR: But Senator, a lot of people are saying that your claim is like trying to take credit for the weather.

Resniak: What's wrong with that? There are times you get to take credit for the weather.

ARR: There are?

Resniak: Sure. Take that hail storm in Denton, Texas, home of the University of North Texas.

ARR: Actually, we missed it. What happened?

Resniak: What happened? Hailstones as big as golf balls. Millions of dollars in damages. Huge holes in car windows. That's what happened.

Hail storm in Denton, Texas, home of non-Big Ten University of North Texas

ARR: Okay, we'll take your word for it. But pardon us. We still don't see what this has to do with the Big Ten. Or the University of North Texas.

Resniak: Don't you know that the University of North Texas isn't in the Big Ten?

ARR: So Denton, Texas wouldn't have been hit by that hail storm if UNT had been in the conference?

Hail damage to car windshield, Denton, TX. While damage was being repaired, UNT applied urgently for membership in Big Ten.


Resniak: Think about it. Has New Brunswick been hit recently by hail the size of golf balls?

ARR: Not that we're aware.

Resniak: (triumphantly) See? And Rutgers is in the Big Ten!

ARR: What about good weather? By your logic, don't you have to somehow claim that New Jersey has been getting better weather since Rutgers got into the Big Ten?

Resniak: Sure. You say you live in New Jersey. What's the weather like in December?

ARR: Freezing, usually. Wet snow or sleet. Sloshing around in rubber overshoes. Overcoat, gloves, earband, hat.

Resniak: (smiling triumphantly) Remember what the temperature was on the 14th of December last year?

ARR: Gosh. That's right. Warm, wasn't it?

Resniak: 71 degrees! Do you think THAT would have happened if Rutgers weren't in the Big Ten?

ARR: We're beginning to get a feel for how your logic works, Senator. We know you're pressed for time. May we ask you a few brief questions about some other points in your booster memo?

Resniak: (placidly) Ask away.

ARR: On the SAT, the Rutgers admissions office is reporting a combined math and verbal score of 1212. You've taken every opportunity to announce that those are higher than last year.

Resniak: Actually, I don't really know a whole lot about SAT scores. I just get them from the university publicity people.

ARR: Right. But you probably know that the College of New Jersey every year has higher SAT scores than Rutgers.

Resniak: We do know that. We're taking steps to change the situation.

ARR: You mean that even with the emphasis on commercialized athletics, Rutgers is going to raise admissions standards?

Resniak: Actually, no. What the administration has in mind, and what I have in mind, is that we're going to try to get TCNJ into the Big Ten. That should take care of the disparity.

ARR: (thoughtfully) We see. Well, your memo to the boosters mentioned that Rutgers is a better institution right now because it's in something called the "CIC." Could you explain?

Resniak: Actually, no. In fact, I have no idea of what "CIC" stands for. Things like that are just the talking points the university PR office cranks out for me to mention when I'm talking about athletics. The boosters eat it up.

ARR: We see. Okay, let's move on, Senator. We see that in your memo you claim that the television advertising Rutgers gets from being in the Big Ten is worth $2.4 million annually.

Hail returns to Denton, Texas three days after UNT is denied entry into "Big Ten." UNT students, looking for hail-free environment, transfer to Rutgers University in New Brunswick, NJ. Out-of-state applications to Rutgers rise by 11%

Resniak:You doubt that? You want to see the figures?

ARR: No, Senator. What we want to know is why you think a university should be advertising on television. Like a brand of car or refrigerator, or a hair-removal system.

Resniak (honestly puzzled). I don't get you. Rutgers is a product, isn't it? Or a service, like Roto-Rooter or Jiffy Lube? Why do you think places like Swarthmore and Columbia and the University of Chicago and Yale spend tens of millions of dollars running prime time ads on TV? How do you think they'd get the students they do if they didn't advertise?

ARR: How indeed? Let us address one other item. You say in your memo that you've gotten your friends in the Legislature to fork over another $25 million to "make Rutgers athlete facilities Big Ten quality."

Resniak: Damned right. I'm proud of that. What's the problem?

ARR: Well, Senator, some people would say that the problem is that Rutgers has already poured over $400 million of the taxpayers' money down the drain trying to become a school like Ohio State or Nebraska. Why do you think that pouring another $25 million down that drain is going to make Rutgers a better univerisity?

Resniak: (doggedly) Because we've got to have big-time facilities if we're going to hire the players that will make us big time so we can get the TV commercials that make a school great, that's why.

ARR: We see. But Senator Resniak, we were just curious. Have you asked a single taxpayer how they'd like to see that money spent? Have you offered them the choice between a Rutgers they could be proud of as an institution of higher learning and a couple of athletic franchises that make a few people like you feel important?

Resniak: Hey,let's go back to the weather. You want to keep on with freezing winters? Trying to mop up after more hurricanes? Maybe dealing with hailstones that knock holes in your car windows? You want that?

ARR: Excellent, Senator Resniak. The meteorological argument. Big Ten weather. What would New Jersey do without it?