Saturday, October 9, 2010

At The End of The Day

While it may not be Michigan vs. Ohio State or Texas vs. Oklahoma (I was going to add Colorado vs. Nebraska but not even I can pretend that game has meant anything in a decade), here along the banks of the Raritan quite a nice little football rivalry has sprung to life. Unless the Big East re-invites Temple to the Conference or extends an invite to Villanova to join, the closest Big East rival for ol' State U is Connecticut. Last night, the Missus and I were among the cast of characters who were in attendance at Rutgers Stadium to watch RU and U Conn get after one another in the Big East opener for each school.

It helps perhaps that each school's head coach appears to have ordered his profile from the "Seven Blocks of Granite" collection. Randy Edsall of Connecticut and Greg Schiano of Rutgers are at least on the watch list for "Man Least Likely To Be Screwed With" and actually bear sort of an eerie resemblance to one another. It no doubt helps as well that U Conn started playing Division I football at or about the time that Rutgers was annually the worst team in college football. In spite of RU's label as "the birthplace of college football", upon U Conn's entry into the Big East Conference in 2004 the Huskies commenced to doing to RU what every other team in the Conference did to them - beating them. Edsall's success at Schiano's expense did not go unnoticed.

Over the past several seasons though the proverbial worm has turned. In '08, after getting off to one of their traditionally slow starts, Rutgers started turning its season around by beating U Conn 12-10 on Homecoming. Last season, the two teams played on Halloween weekend in what was the Huskies' first game following the murder of one of their star players Jazz Howard. RU won the game in the final minute when Tom Savage threw a dart to Tim Brown who outran everyone to score. The fact that Brown was Howard's best friend was likely of little consolation to anyone wearing Connecticut colors.

Last evening RU and U Conn renewed their gridiron hostilities. Apparently last night was a "blackout game" for RU - at least for the student section. It appeared as if all of the kids seated there were wearing matching black t-shirts, which from our vantage point in Section 221 looked pretty cool. While Rutgers perplexes me from a football perspective with its incredible absence of offensive continuity (it is as if the coaches decide upon a particular play having success to never, ever call it again), they play spirited, tenacious defense which more often than not is enough to make up for it. Besides, last night was a great night to watch a bit of college football. Margaret and I made our first trip of the '10 season to watch the boys from State U do their thing and while it took them almost the entire game to get it accomplished, once again last night in the wee small moments of the final quarter Schiano's gang found a way to defeat Edsall's crew. Another season, another freshman RU quarterback poking the Huskies with a stick.

Even as a RU fan and season ticket holder, my aversion to Kool-Aid prevents me from envisioning the day when RU v. U Conn will be a game that carries with it "national championship implications" or some such nonsense. I simply do not ever see that happening. But for present purposes, with each school taking on the tenacious personality of its head coach, the annual get-together produces some mighty entertaining, highly competitive football. Rivalry is a good thing.......

.....Especially when you win. It gives you a reason to believe.


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