Thursday, November 29, 2012

Pandemonium Part Deux?

Six years ago - on a Thursday night in the late autumn - the State University of New Jersey (you know it better perhaps as Rutgers) announced its arrival in "big-time" college football.  In a game dubbed - at least in these parts - as "Pandemonium in Piscataway" the Scarlet Knights won a thriller over the Louisville Cardinals.  It was a win that was expected to vault RU into the rarified air of BCS bowl participant. 

Except it did not.  Rutgers squandered the opportunity it had earned on that Thursday night by going into Cincy the following week and getting drubbed by the homestanding Bearcats.  That loss was followed up by the "catch that was not" in the waning moments in Morgantown against West Virginia, which resulted NOT in a miracle win in the final seconds of regulation on the road but in a devastating loss in overtime.  The '06 season did end on one hell of a high note for Coach Greg Schiano's charges.  They took out their frustrations at having to "settle" for playing in the Texas Bowl by rolling over and through Kansas State. 

From that moment to this one, RU has been poised to take that next step.  To date, it has not.  To date, every time it has tried, it has tripped over its own two feet.  Perhaps it has struggled because the fates have conspired against it or the stars have been misalligned.  Perhaps it has struggled because something has been missing - or simply not quite right. 

Tonight in Piscataway, Rutgers shall host their rivals from Louisville in a "winner take all" game for the Big East Championship.  In view of their pending migration west (OK "midwest" in the interests of geographic accuracy) to the Big Ten in 2014 (fourteen being the number of teams that shall play in the numerically-challenged Big Ten as of '14) tonight might represent their last best chance to get a seat at the adult table.  At least for a while. 

Six autumns ago I was in the building to watch what was then believed to be the program's defining moment.  Tonight I shall be there as well to see whether there is any magic in this hoped-for sequel.  I shall this evening - as I did on that one all those years ago - root, root, root for the home team. 

And hope like hell for a similar result. 

-AK

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