With tonight being the first round of the NFL Draft, it's natural enough that the local press would highlight the fact that Piscataway Township is about to get its second and third 1st round picks in the course of little over a year.
When talking about this topic, the immediate temptation is to compare Piscataway with other top New Jersey football programs. Specifically, the high profile ones in North Jersey. Bergen County was the scene for the NJSIAA almost imploding in 2008, although those disputes haven't popped up elsewhere in the state. In Central Jersey, the only parochial program I can even name off the top of my head is 'Lata (save for the perpetual talk of St. Joe's).
Well, that's just what Anthony Davis did (bolded emphasis mine).
"We took pride in that," Davis said. "My coaches used to say it all the time: "Twenty-one square miles and all that talent is in Piscataway.' We felt with our talent from here we could beat anybody. And that's why we tried to scrimmage schools like Don Bosco and those other schools that recruit just to prove a point."
Cue the Bosco/Prep/etc... brigade waving pitchforks and arguing that those programs do not recruit. Since it's a topic briefly addressed at points in the past here anyway, this is as good an opportunity as any to tackle it head on.
This is a subject that requires careful treading. With large pending cuts in state aid to school districts, now Gov. Christie is under fire for sending his children to parochial schools. New Jerseyans pay high property taxes to maintain their public schools, and can get a little sore and defensive on the subject.
My sympathies lean towards the Piscataway side of the equation too, but it's too simplistic to say that Piscataway is the Rebel Alliance here, and Don Bosco is the Death Star. Tell that to Paterson Catholic or St. Joe's of Montvale, who have been as supportive of Rutgers football as anyone. Piscataway isn't the only school that will produce a Rutgers first rounder tonight. Not to mention that GMC'ers like Malcolm Jenkins and Jason Worilds spurned the Scarlet Knights to play elsewhere.
Tell it to Mike Teel, who may have been closer to the coaching staff at Rutgers than any other player over the past decade. Rutgers is a public school, so there's no mistaking where most of everyone's sympathies are, but there's a real danger with going overboard with any of this rhetoric. After all, isn't Rutgers football supposed to be the one thing that brings the entire state together?
With Rutgers looking poised to finally break through with the North Jersey parochials this year, this kind of talk is a headache Coach Schiano will want no part of; especially if those same message boards are arguing about whether or not his children should attend Piscataway High years down the road. That conversation is creepy, disturbing, whatever adjective you want to call it. But it's out there, and will only grow louder with time. As fun as it may be to speculate, there's no avenue where this conversation ends up a positive for the football program.