Sunday, October 21, 2007

Oh, They Were THAT Kind of Number 2

Other titles could have read:
"BullsHit Knight Wall," "Bulls S#$% the Bed," or "Bulls Forced to Get Off Pot"

Sorry about that South Florida. Didn't mean to bring you back to reality. You played a great game, you have a pretty flashy quarterback...and by that I mean it looked like he was blinded by a thousand flashes of light the way he played in the second half.

It seemed like some of the defensive intensity was back in this game, although it was still an offensive pass interference call away (although it was pretty blatant) from being a very, very, very tight game with a field goal pending us towards a tie game (no idea if that is good english, but maybe that hypocritical english professor will offer to correct my web grammar when he is done counting the four or five books he has sold...)

The trickery was nice, but I'm sure there will be a groundswell complaining that it took gadgetry to beat them. I don't have any problem with it. Those types of plays work for a reason. Coaches and/or players see chances and then players execute them. And if you look at the fake field goal, South Florida had a pretty good idea it was happening, but some fingertips kept that from being a head scratcher and keeping it a hi-fiver. And I read one comment complaining again about student behavior (albeit a small one) chanting 'overrated.' The comment says this devalues the accomplishment of your team beating someone. I can't disagree more. Teams like Virginia that keep escaping with one or two point wins can make cases that they are good until someone proves them otherwise. A loss to Rutgers doesn't mean South Florida isn't good, but it does mean that Rutgers proved something in taking down a good team. Plus, and I can't believe I need to enlighten people to this again, trash talking is part of the game for a fan. It is not a polite pursuit all the time. Yes, we clap when someone who is injured walks off the field, or we might even clap if someone sets some weird record, but ultimately, we want to cheer for our team, and root, yes root, against the opposing team.

If Auburn had hung on to win last night, which if they were any friend of Rutgers they would have, Rutgers could have had a pretty good ladder argument to be in the top 5. You know, Rutgers beat South Florida which beat Auburn which almost beat LSU. I love those games...but only when AU doesnt get BURNED on a 22 yard td pass with virtually no time on the clock...and if one auburn db can just tip the ball away, I am heading to photoshop to build a ladder with all kinds of logos....but oh well, I will just have to wait for Rutgers to whip WVU and not need a ladder...

Go RU.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

Not THAT guy

So it has been a few days since I spewed out my thoughts on the men of Scarlet. And the last time I did, we were coming off a heartbreaker versus Maryland. Now, we are a few days removed from a Bearcat beatdown that was tough because we had chances, not a chance, but chances to win that game. Even though I don't know exactly how to pick up the pieces and talk the talk, I know that I don't want to be that guy who dumps his team at the slightest hint of adversity. Far from it. Even though this sucks, and I don't like to see my team go through these kinds of tough losses, I am comforted by the not so distant past that reminds me that times have been tougher, and to be disappointed to lose to a ranked team and not have a secret acceptance of my place in the football world, means a lot in terms of football respect.

So, two losses into this tough stretch, the season still stretches out in front of us. National Title hopes, I mean, realistically, they were a far off dream this season anyway, but now that reality is firmly in our front mirror. The middle linebacking woes seem to have cropped up in our rush defense, and having tight ends who can block and catch the ball have room for improvement. I can only tell you that a bowl would still be a nice goal for this team, regardless of the year, and three wins amongst our final games seems a good chance, considering teams like the Cuse, Pitt, and Uconn are on the horizon. Oh, and Louisville might not be the big bad bird we all thought they were, at least their defense couldn't stop a pickup flag football team.

Is it irony also that one of the comments I received on my last post was from someone selling rutgers floor mats? I felt like I was a little bit of a floor mat after losing on consecutive weeks this year, oh, how I might have been spoiled by last year, but I knew to keep my fandom from going amuck. Back in the '80's, as a Rtugers fan, I thought a team like West Virgina had a good M.O. They were good enough to be in the national title talk once every 3 or 4 years, when one of their classes came together and developed and peaked together. I always thought I would be happy with that. I just hope I don't have to start burning couches to foster that kind of mojo.

By the way, the link for those Rutgers mats if you are curious is oddly enough:

Enjoy and go RU.

Tuesday, October 02, 2007

Bandwagon: Plenty of Seats Available

Well, here we are. A place I knew was right around some bend. A gut-wrenching Rutgers loss to an inferior team we should have beaten. As expected, the dire-hards are off the bandwagon, leaving behind those who were there in the first place. We, the fans who suffer and stay no matter what the current wind, are not surprised, although it stings nonetheless.

I remind myself and others that not winning a national title is a problem most schools in division 1 have and the fact that Rutgers' chances have diminished greatly doesn't change my allegiance or enjoyment of the team. I still like seeing players develop and mature. I enjoy the process of this team learning and evolving. It is not that far removed from the crappy days of autumn where a three point loss was a victory, not a sad feeling that something slipped away. And if I try hard enough, I can look at the 7 teams in the top 13 that lost and take some solace that maybe it isn't over yet...maybe we can rise through the rankings again and since it was early enough in the season, we still have time to reload the bandwagon and the press votes to have a run at it. But if all I have to look forward to is a chance at a conference championship, that wouldn't suck too bad.

And beyond my Rutgers fandom, I enjoy college football, so the upcoming match-ups with Cincy, USF, Louisville and WVU are still games I anticipate greatly.

Things could be worse, they can always be worse. I could be a Temple football fan.

Go RU.

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Dowling Decision: Dreck Based on Ignorance

For all he spoke about the intelligence level of college athletes, Professor William C. Dowling exposed his own level of smartness by choosing his quotes to try to make his points. I hesitate to simply call him stupid because much like the Rutgers athletes Dowling drilled, I don't know the man, and wouldn't know him if he was pulling off his hood. So, here we go again. And this comes on the heels of people complaining about the low-brow nature of football fans in general, but it attacks sports on a much broader scope. It seems to be the trend that a success in one area of the world causes someone to look for a way to tear it down. I don't necessarily think that shouldn't happen. Our country and our world has benefited from inspection and debate over many things...civil rights, taxation without representation, and the Yugo all came, were developed and embraced or sent to the societal scrap heap. That activity only happened AFTER people considered these ideas, talked about them, mulled them over, and maybe even fought and died over them.

But discourse based on a marketing plan to promote a book is not a good place to start the discussion. Yes, we all understand the jealousy associated with non-sports fans who don't understand the fascination with sports and want to call anything associated with organized collegiate sports a tremendous waste of time and money. And maybe there are indeed a few corners cut to allow these gifted athletes to play games for the entertainment of people. But don't discount the benefits of the system. Nothing, I repeat nothing in this world is good without any bad associated with it. So does Dowling and his disciples want to disband all college athletics because he doesn't agree with the distribution of scholarships? Phrases such as throwing out the baby with the bathwater, or cutting off your nose to spite your face come to mind. Make no mistake, although he condemns things such as big time athletics and television, his comments to the New York Times were granted to sell his book. His disdain of media is hypocritical.

But before I just dismiss this man Dowling as a racist anti-athletics hater, I decided to do something he apparently did not take the time to do. I tried to learn about him from his apparently abandoned web site. And as one might suspect, he is an interesting man with many scholarly pursuits. He is an english professor with degrees from Dartmouth and Harvard with several books to his credit. From his English professor pulpit, he takes shots at students who use the word 'like' too much, tells serious English students to learn latin, and he also goes on to say:

"...I loathe and detest television and keep telling my students to smash their TV sets and fill their rooms with books. (I actually do think that the people in Hell watch TV. Also that people who watch TV here on earth -- instead of reading books and learning Greek and arguing with their friends about Aristotle or Milton or Tocqueville -- are in Hell and simply haven't realized it yet.)"

Dowling ran marathons before sustaining an injury and loves to spend time in Paris for pleasure. He also moonlights as a Paris restaurant critic. But as you also might imagine, he has some interesting contradictions. For a man who wrote his first book about the form of the Boswellian hero, and also someone who loves to mine through great literature, how can he not see the parallels with sports? Aren't sports dramatic and filled with moments worthy of literature? Aren't athletes heroes in their own right who overcome circumstances of games and their lives to prevail? If they do not prevail, sometimes those competitors are even more fascinating at how they pick themselves up and continue to fight. Why is his preferred debate about "Aristotle or Milton or Tocqueville" more appropriate or desirable than my debate over Rutgers, West Virginia, or Louisville? His opinions seek to create a jargon filled barrier with those who do not share his passion. not open up the academic doors to those in the libraries after school. And if his environment is so distasteful, and he does not approve of his association with his third-rate university employer, why does he stay? Couldn't he make his observations from a distance at a school that he approves? Why is his tenure protected seat at Rutgers the only place he can work? Instead Dowling employs the long standing tradition of hacking up a situation with criticism but does not offer a solution for fixing the problem short of disbanding college sports ties to television revenues.

Finally, Dowling is a man who proudly claims he is no longer on e-mail or the internet because of porn sites popping up and ruining a manuscript he claimed to have been working on for six years. This declaration is symptomatic of the Dowling overall. He chooses to look at himself as a victim for something which he is not. Number one, if you are working on something for six years, you should have it backed up someplace, so the most you will lose is from the last point you backed-up your information. And that could be as simple as printing it, e-mailing it, or saving on a variety of disc formats. Secondly, internet pop-ups are often a function of cookies which can be deleted from your computer. Dowling's ignorance strikes again. For someone who loves to read so much, he ought to read the entire story about athletics in general, and specifically Rutgers football's players.

I encourage you to read Dowling's words, or his web site at least and judge for yourself if he is an enlightened man with a well-thought out opinion or a media saavy marketing man who is ultimately trying to generate interest in his own book sales and inflate his ego.

Go RU.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Score a Touchdown...Jesus!

Well, this might be a time that I point to and realize that I had it too good. This is the type of post that I will look back on when times aren't as rosy and say, what were you thinking. But I will also remember that this was inspired by a true sense of empathy and a willingness to share pain with those around me, a desire to help someone understand their grief, and maybe to cope with their confusion a little better.

You see, I have been a Rutgers fan for a long time. I wear that a badge of honor, especially now, when the years of suffering are blossoming into a top ten ranking and massive national respect. I don't begrudge those who have recently climbed the steps onto the bandwagon, in fact, I embrace them and feel proud to have them on board. The interesting time will be when we have adversity, when we might, gasp, lose a close game, and things might be going our way. Then we will see who stays in their seats, and who will pull the string for the driver to stop at the next stop and let them off.

With this in mind, I feel it is appropriate to extend my expertise on adversity to a program that is so unfamiliar with losing that they have never, EVER started a season 0-4. They have been led by some of the greatest names in sports history, and even have a statue of Jesus they use to guide their young men and bless them as they cross the goal line. With all those victories, great players, coaches, and history, you know that a fan of Notre Dame is feeling a bit bewildered right now. No wins? Sputtering offense? Rebuilding? It's ok Irish fans, we, the Rutgers faithful have been there. And while you might view this on the lines of the bizzaro Seinfeld episode, maybe there is room to learn from this experience. My biggest problem with most fans of teams that have massive amounts of success is that their great seasons get muddied and confused. Conversations like, "What was your favorite championship Muffy? Number two or number five?" Well, now you get a bit of perspective Golden Domers. Now you can see where the teams you have trampled were. Remember this lesson. Soak in the crapulence. Before you know it, Big Charlie (A jersey guy by the way) will turn it around and you will find the next Gipper or Montana or Brown. By suffering a little bit through this season, the next success you taste will be even sweeter and you will understand a little bit about the wait for something. It is often times the journey that is so much fun, not necessarily the destination. So feel free to cry it out, then dry those tears, it will eventually get better...unless you put Temple on the schedule. If you lose to them, you will have to disband the program.

Go RU.

Monday, September 17, 2007

91 seconds

Time of possession. The NY football Giants used to make a living with their ball-control offense. In fact, a lot of teams in the pre-West Coast and Greatest shows in turf era made a living out of running the ball, keeping their defense on the field, and thus, the opposing offense off the field, and control the clock. Overwhelming nine minute drives would crush an opposing team's spirit, and prevent any offensive rhythm from appearing in the game. And the next thing they would know, it's 21-7, and there isn't any time left for a drive, and they are so out of whack and trying to throw on every play, and a fresh defense is pinning its ears back and coming after them on every play.

So, how then, do you explain 1:31 versus 13:29 in time of possession on Saturday, yet look at the scoreboard and see 42-0 in the second quarter of the Spartan massacre? How do you look at 11 offensive plays that cover 277 yards and result in six touchdowns? I can't recreate that on NCAA college football 08. It seems impossible (and maybe a little inhuman) that a team can have drives of:

2 plays - 52 yards
1 play - 28 yards (after a botched fake punt)
2 plays - 92 yards (pass of 65 yards, five yard penalty, then a 22 yard run by Ray Rice)
2 plays - 46 yards
3 plays - 42 yards (starting to slack off offensively...)
and finally, 2 plays - 53 yards.

For the quarter, four guys accounted for all the offense...
Ray Rice, 3 carries, 33 yards, 3 TD's (Rutgers 3-0....)
Mike Teel, 7-8 passing, 244 yards, 3 TD's
Kenny Britt, 3 catches, 96 yards, 2 TD's
Tiquan Underwood, 4 catches, 148 yards, TD

Plus, two penalties by NSU, an illegal sub, and a pass interference. The only blemish, outside of those borderline timeouts, was an incomplete pass and that little roughing the kicker penalty. Otherwise, that is a perfect pummeling of an overmatched opponent.

91 seconds. Oof.

Lastly, I might have a bone to pick with Coach Schiano for calling timeouts at the end of the first half, trying to get the ball back to add to the 42 points already posted over the poor Spartans of Norfolk State. But upon further review, I think he was just trying to get his first stringers back on the field for one last series, to practice the two minute drill against semi-live competition. And Schaino even said after the game, that he was coaching the game hard through the first half, so I guess I give him a break for trying to squeeze everything he could out of the first half...maybe.

But, and maybe I need that Mark guy from the Ledger to write a scathing opinion piece to get this started... for all the people upset at booing college athletes, calling timeouts up by 45? No outrage from the sit on your hands set? Hmmm....where are all the people who were worried about feelings last week. Doesn't Norfolk State deserve any compassion? No Spartan love? See, football is about physicality. All you George Will wannabes should crawl back to your area rugs and fireplaces and stick to things that you know. Allow me to bring you to the breakfast club as you sip your chaintes...

Don't you ever talk about my
friends! You don't know any of my
friends, you don't look at any of my
friends and you certainly wouldn't
condescend to speak to any of my
friends so you just stick to the
things you know, shopping, nail
polish, your father's BMW and your
poor--rich--drunk mother in the

(furious and sobbing)
Shut up!

And as far as being concerned about
what's gonna happen when you and I
walk down the hallways at school,
you can forget it! 'Cause it's never
gonna happen! Just bury your head
in the sand...and wait for your
f***in' prom!
And stop telling me when I can and can't boo. I consider this issue laid to rest.

Go RU.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Let's Learn About Who We are Going to Boo

Oh wait, I meant to type who we are not going to fact, we are going to make notes of every positive thing they do, write them on note cards, and send them to the locker room at half-time with pre-filled blank get-well cards for any injuries we may have missed when they happened live and didn't have time to write out get-well notes...and then after the game, we will cheer equally loud for each team, making sure every other fan is clapping for the opposite team so no one's feelings get hurt, and then we will ask them if it is ok to leave our seats and return home, where we will read at least 100 pages of classic literature before eating, and certainly will not operate machinery until we have personally reviewed our fan behavior and the behavior of those around us, relatives, and neighbors who we have seen at least once in the past 7 months, and report any suspect behavior and especially anyone who boo's to Joe Paterno or the estate of Mother Theresa (does she have an estate?)

So maybe I have a bit of time on my hands, but I got to thinking yesterday, what exactly is a Norfolk State. Yes, it is a blatant attempt to rip off the classic tale of asking the precise definition of what exactly is a Rutgers…but what fun it would be to dig into the history of the storied football program of Norfolk State, who they are, where they come from…(with thanks and non0cited information from the Norfolk St Athletics web site, the city of Norfolk web site, wiki, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, and the AP and UPI wires…see, I am a journalist sort of…)

Norfolk is one of the oldest cities in our country, established in 1682, which I believe is the last time Temple had a winning football season. Some famous people who are from this Virginia mecca of commerce are Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Venus Flytrap (Tim Reid), Bob Saget, and Wayne Newton. It is part of the Hampton Raods region in Virginia, which is the cities of Norfolk, Newport News, and Virginia Beach, as well as the body of water that makes up the harbor of Hampton Roads.

Norfolk State the School was formerly known as the Norfolk State Unit of Virginia Union University, but in 1942 became an independent entity and was known as Norfolk Polytechnic College (aka Norfolk Tech). Then Norfolk Tech bounced into the realm of Virginia State College, lost it polytechnic status, and settled in to being Norfolk State College. And of course, as all colleges aspire to be, it then grew into being Norfolk State University. Enrollment as of last year was 6,238 students. The most popular majors are business, nursing, psychology, biology, and music education.

Their official colors are green and gold and their mascot is a Spartan. They play in one of my favorite conferences outside the Big East, the MEAC. The Spartans have fielded a team since 1938 and they have been to the post-season once and played only one game, their heyday way back in 1984. It was Willard Bailey’s first season as head coach, and it was a dream season. Cruising to the CIAA championship with 10 wins and only one loss, ranked 6th in the polls and hosting 8th ranked Towson State in their in the first round of their first time ever in the Division II NCAA playoffs. The game featured the nations number one passing attack from Towson against the vaunted Norfolk State defense that was particularly stingy against the run, coming into the game giving only 47.3 rushing yards a game, which ranked them number one against the run in the nation. So what happened? Well, six Norfolk turnovers in the form of a blocked punt, fumbles and interceptions stymied their offense, and somehow against the solid Spartan defense, Towson found a way to pound out an uncanny 295 yards of rushing offense. The final score was a result of a furious Norfolk comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, led by quarterback Willie Gillus, who tossed a touchdown pass to Leonard Hopkins, and running back Raynard Ravels. But it was too little too late as Towson took a 31-21 victory. (Towson went on to lose in the next round 45-3 at the hands of eventual national champion Troy State) The 1984 team holds the distinction of having the most wins (10) and the longest winning streak (8) in school history. Anthony Johnson, a SBN 1st team all-American in 1984, set the record that year for the most rushing attempts in a game (43 versus Howard) and for a season (310). Glenn Jones, a defensive back, was drafted with the first pick of the ninth round of the 1985 draft, and Bruce Manley, another defensive back was a free-agent signee with the Seattle Seahawks. But that was it for that run…the next few seasons went steadily downhill, 6-4 in ’85, 4-6 in ’86, and 4-7 in ’87. Coach Bailey tried to right the ship, but eventually the program went in a different direction after a 3-7 campaign in 1992.

Other than that, their big guys were Aaron Sparrow, a quarterback with numerous records, and Kevin Talley a 1-AA defensive player of the year and all-american linebacker who set the NCAA record with 195 tackles in a seaon and once had 30 tackles in one game (overachiever anyone?) Eventually went to the Quad City Steamwheelers of AFL2 fame, but as far as I can tell, he hasn’t played in a game in a few years. There is someone else named Kevin Talley who is a death metal drummer, but apparently these two have no relation, but I can’t confirm that.

So, now, I guess, all that’s left is the massacre that is going to take place at homecoming this week. I hope people can get over the bad press from last week over the rudeness of the SOME not ALL of the fans. I guess it is a sign of the times though. With more success comes more everything, fans, scrutiny, the need to fill newspaper and web spaces...wait a minute, that's me too, because I am sucked into talking about it. I like a victim.

Go RU.