Friday, December 7, 2007

O Rutgers! My Rutgers!

Well, the season was interesting at least. One that began with high hopes and a top 25 ranking and seemingly will end (likely) 8-5 out of the top 25. One where people are complaining about a winning season and a bowl berth. I'm not all that unhappy with it, though. Think of where we were. Only beating teams like Temple. Producing good players, NFL players, but not results. Well, we changed all that. We now produce NFL caliber players, and winning seasons for the first time since TBL was a student at RU. People complain about how Schiano called games this year. How quickly they forget that he is the one that got us here. Regardless of how the team played this year, whether good or bad, we must remember that this is OUR team. I love this team. I've loved them for my entire life. I loved them when they sucked. I loved them after every loss this year. I love them playing themselves into 3 straight bowl games. I love them because I get to make my first trip to Canada in my life this January. Yeah, that's me in the picture. A scrawny white 9 year old watching Rutgers beat up on Temple on October 31st, 1998. At halftime. I defy you to find a picture of Rutgers stadium from 2003-2007 where it was THAT empty. The 7-5 season is better than the 1-10, 2-9 seasons we were accustomed to in the 1990's. People will probably say, what the hell do you know kid, you were 9? Well, I know that when my (Philadelphia) Eagles sucked, I stood by and rooted, and when OUR knights sucked, I stood by and rooted. Maybe I didn't know better? I didn't think the Knights would ACTUALLY start winning, luckily around the time I was looking to go to college. But I credit my dad. My dad raised me right; raised me on a team that sucked. Raised me to love the team I love, regardless of record. And I rooted and rooted and rooted my ass off, from when I was eight years old until now, where I sit and write about the team I love, as an 18 year old in the prime of his life. I NEVER gave up on them when they lost. They were all I had. We never had the money to go to the NFL games. These Knights were all I had. And good or bad, they taught me what football was. It wasn't about winning to us when we sucked. It was about going to the game, getting a few hot dogs, and enjoying the game. Watching Mike McMahon hook up with L.J. Smith for the rare touchdowns we scored. It was about Tres Moses pumping up the patchy crowd that was there with his dynamite kick returns. When we got better in 2005 and had our Insight Bowl berth, people got on the bandwagon. Now, after being 7-5, people are again jumping ship. Not many. Just the doubters. The "I told you so-ers." The people who called us a fluke, a Cinderella, a pretender. BUT JUST THINK WHERE WE WERE. And who got us there. My father gave me the greatest gift of all. He gave me Rutgers football. And our coach, Greg Schiano, gave us chances to win games and be places we would have never dreamed of. Anybody reading this probably wants me dead by now. Saying, thanks Future_RU_MLB, for your opinion. But what's your point?

My point is as follows. There comes a time when you are given an opportunity to move up in the world, especially in coaching. You can't keep turning jobs down. On this, December 7th, 2007, it is being reported by the Newark Star Ledger's Tom Luicci on ESPN that the University of Michigan has contacted our fearless leader, Coach Schiano, about their coaching vacancy in Ann Arbor. Needless to say, when I saw this, I shed a tear. I'm not afraid to admit it, either. I love that mad. He brought us to a great place. And he screwed the University of Miami last year. How can you NOT love him? It's being reported that though no offer has been made, it seems very likely that our coach could be getting an offer from Michigan very soon. He visited with the U of M athletic director, Bill Martin, in New York City for 5 hours Thursday to discuss the job. I sincerely hope he screws another U of M. Nothing would make me happier. I plan on wearing scarlet next year, regardless of our coaching situation. Obviously, it'd be a dream come true to play what little minutes I would get in four years at RU for Schiano, but if not, I wish him all the best in everything he does for the rest of his career. He built us up from nothing and made us contenders. The only ill that I would ever wish him is that if he leaves, I want him to regret his decision for the rest of his life. I want him to say, if anyone asks what he regrets the most in life, that he never should have left The State University of New Jersey. I would welcome the new coach with open arms, and the dreams to continue the high level of play that makes me proud to say that I AM a season ticket holder, I AM a New Jersey resident, and I AM a Scarlet Knight. I will be heartbroken if coach leaves. If he stays, It'll only make me want to be a Knight more. I worry that if he leaves now, Ray may leave as well. That may be unavoidable. Generally teams don't win the championship with a first year coach at the helm. And if Ray thinks he is ready to play in the NFL (and he is), and we have a new coach, thusly making it harder to win a National Championship, I think he will leave. And we'll probably lose some recruits, too. But whatever happens, happens.


We the Rutgers faithful love you and appreciate what you have done for us. We hope that you will make the choice that you feel is right for you. You committed yourself to us, to winning and starting a tradition at Rutgers. At Michigan, you would just be the next man with his head on the chopping block. At Penn State (this is in the future, folks), you'd have the dubious honor of following the legendary Joe Paterno. At Rutgers, you could be OUR Joe Paterno. We love you. We worship you. You were the National Coach of the year at Rutgers. You had a house built in New Jersey to make life easier. For Christ's sake, you drive a RED ESCALADE. If you drive that in Ann Arbor, you may as well just slap a big magnetic Buckeye on the door. You AND College Football were both born in New Jersey. You will be expected to win every game at U of M. They will only love you if you do. Their outgoing coach is nearly HATED in Ann Arbor. He only led them to 13 bowls in 13 years, 5 conference titles, and ONE national championship. We love you because of who you are and what you've given us. Not only because of what you have accomplished. You are a native son. OUR native son. You were born for the job you've got, and we just hope to God you realize that.

I like how Walt Whitman put it.

O Captain! my Captain! our fearful trip is done;
The ship has weather’d every rack, the prize we sought is won;
The port is near, the bells I hear, the people all exulting,
While follow eyes the steady keel, the vessel grim and daring:

But O heart! heart! heart!
O the bleeding drops of RED,
Where on the deck my Captain lies,
Fallen cold and dead
Except our fearful trip is NOT done, nor is your career at Rutgers dead. Because for YOU the flag is flung. And for YOU the bugle trills. Just don't make us fly the flag at half staff.

With much respect and admiration,

The Rutgers Faithful

1 comment:

True Blue Liberal said...

One comment: The photo ofyou was actually taken at the end of the game, not at halftime. The band used to play the alma mater from the center of the field rather than the corner.
That being said, I hope that Coach Schiano is feeling the love from every corner of the State of Rutgers today, and thanjs for putting it into writing.