The following is an excerpt from the upcoming edition of What the P-S Won't Tell You About... Be on the lookout Thursday for the full preview!
Writing something clever about a state school in New Jersey is a much tougher task than one might think. The school and state are already such a regular punching bag, it would seem a bit disingenuous to just pile on more misery to a place that in reality has fine people, and (if you know where to look) a decent amount of charm. So out of respect to my NJ neighbors, I'll avoid the shakeweight and GTL jokes and just come at you straight from the heart...
I hate Rutgers football. I hate it to its core. I hate it with the same loathing that rationally should only be reserved for Georgetown basketball and Gloria Allred. I hate Rutgers football because even though they claim to be the birthplace of college football, there's no fan base that misunderstands the history and hierarchy of the game more than Rutgers fans.
Look, I am a football traditionalist. The son of Nebraskans, the grandson of Nebraskans, the great-grandson of Nebraskans. I was raised to understand three things: stoicism, self-reliance, and college football. I understand that great traditions, great programs, and the bragging-rights that go with them come from decades of excellence, not from a single win against Louisville six years ago.
When I was a child, I didn't understand this. Back in the day, I would go to my grandfather -- the tough foreman of a slaughterhouse, and a die-hard's die-hard of Cornhusker football -- and make an argument that some upstart of a team was better than his 'Huskers, basing my argument on the previous season's record, or a recent win against a good team. He'd just sit there, let out a laugh and say, still chuckling,
"S*^t, if they can beat Oklahoma year-in and year-out like Nebraska can, then you can talk to me about whether they're any good."
With that, the conversation would end. I'm sure when I see him in heaven, I'll still have a difficult time arguing that God was a more influential figure than Tom Osbourne.
This brings me back to my disdain for Rutgers. Their fans are just like I was as a child! The NY-metro media, the hundreds of car owners with the annoying 'R' bumper stickers on the rear door, all three of their blog posters...they seem to have bought into a narrative that Rutgers football is nationally relevant based on one or two data points when all established measures of relevance and respect confirm that they remain far closer to Iowa State than Florida State!
But here's the truth...they HAVE beaten us six out of the last nine years. Enough of a data point to put some sobering reality to OUR place in the pecking order as well. Yeah, we have the recent trend line is worrying. Rutgers is as relevant to college football as Snooki is to serious acting (sorry, couldn't help myself). But my own anxiety regarding the reality of our falling status is only heightened when these annoying little punks from the Raritan River stick another 'W' next to our name on their schedule., The 1959 National Champions, Ernie Davis, The 1987 Unbeaten Team, Donovan McNabb and nearly 700 wins. That's all fine, but
For the love of Tom Osbourne, enough is enough...Coach Marrone, boys, let's do this!!!