Saturday, December 10, 2011

on rutgers football

am i a rutgers football fan?  in a semi-detached way, i guess i sort of am.

for sure, i am pretty happy for the scarlet student body of the 21st century and the added dimension a strong football program brings to the college experience.  these students have a legitimate contender to cheer for, or at least a team that's at least semi-competitive against any top-ranked team, year after recent year due to greg schiano's leadership and nj-heavy recruiting.

i'm definitely a football fan in general, but for the most part the nfl, and specifically the new york giants.  and, along with my father and sister, we are season ticket holders.  which is pretty cool since he waited a few decades on the waiting list so we can't give'm up now.   

as for college football, eh, i guess i never got into it.  i mean, i went to rutgers in the 80s, and while the scarlet are the only division i-a college football team in the nyc metropolitan area, the largest media market in the usa, let's face it, if you roamed the banks of the ol' raritan in the 20th century (or even a good part of the 19th) most of us were pretty much trained to not care too much about college football.  around the time i was paying tuition, whether or not rutgers ended up with a winning or losing record in any given year pretty much came down to how many division i-aa versus i-a teams were on that year's schedule.  the less of the latter, the better they'd come out in the end.

for those who don't know, one of the things rutgers can be proud of football-wise is that what's now the college avenue campus is the birthplace of college football. i won't bore you with trivia, but it was some pickup game against some princeton students back in 1869.  

there weren't any uniforms, so the rutgers men tied red rags around their heads, which further solidified scarlet as the school color.  sure, princeton can claim part of that heritage of that first game, but let's face it, it was a home game in new brunswick and who won that game?  rutgers.  (as the story goes, there was a rematch the next week and princeton plowed the scarlet team.  

so... that one week late in 1869 was pretty much the last time rutgers was ranked #1 in the country.)

it's been fun to keep up with how they've been doing, and kinda cool to see a whole bunch of players are making it into the nfl every year.  but the fact is i feel pretty detached from the whole wave.  and, being a good sports fan in general, i resist the temptation to jump on bandwagons, despite the fact that in this case i might be excused for it, but mostly due to the fact that the number of games i went to while i was an undergrad i could count on one hand, with a finger or two left over to throw a dart down in the basement of the chi, which i might add is probably what i was doing on game days, most of the time blissfully unaware that a home game was actually being played across the river at the time.  hey pledge, pour me another.

the company i work for here in california contains a lot of transplants from all around the usa (and many other countries around the world), and many of those folks did go to schools with solid football programs, and as such actively supporting their school's team was a big part of their cultural experience there.  schools like penn state, wisconsin, washington, auburn, south carolina, etc., and a few years back when rutgers started doing well, it was those folks who kept me in the loop monday morning on how my own school's team fared the previous saturday.   when i didn't know how rutgers did, or if they even played, yeah, from these folks i got quite a few strange looks.

so, in the end do i support rutgers football?  it a detached way, sure.  all in all i'm pretty pumped up about it, now that it seems it wasn't just a one season flash.  in a way the scarlet are still underdogs of division i-a, but it's got to be good for the state.  

i mean, jersey has a population of about 8 million, but with two halves in the shadows of nyc and philadelphia, the team and its success has pulled the halves together, watching their red team go upstream. rah rah rutgers rah, indeed.

so it's been announced that rutgers will play iowa state in the pinstripe bowl huh?  looking forward to it.  and with the game being in the bronx, i'll expect to see the stands a sea of scarlet.