All you probably know of Wisconsin are Mason Gross grad (and star of the brilliant Better Off Ted) Andrea Anders, and, of course, the Green Bay Packers. Rutgers alumnus Greg Bedard covers the Packers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, and previously was on the Dolphins beat at the Palm Beach Post.. A 1997 graduate of Livingston College and the Rutgers School of Communication, Information, and Library Studies, Bedard was on staff at the Daily Targum from '94-'97.
Many Rutgers graduates are established within the sports media. Tom Luicci, Brian Dohn, Tara Sullivan, and Rick Malwitz cover Rutgers athletics to some extent or another. There's also the likes of Brian Lewis (NY Post - Soccer), Eric Prisbell (Washington Post - Maryland/College), Kelly Whiteside (USA Today), Patricia Traina (Inside Football - NY Giants), and Steven Goldman (Baseball Prospectus/YES), along with others that I unfortunately cannot recall at the moment. What sets Greg Bedard apart in this regard is that, as Twitter users may know, he tweets about Rutgers all the time. I was keen on sending him a few questions, and Bedard was kind enough to respond.
On the Banks: If you don't mind, I was searching for information about you, and one thing that was very informative was your interview with Cheesehead TV (which is recommended background reading as a companion to this). What was it like to play baseball for Fred "Moose" Hill? Do your experiences as an athlete influence your writing?
Greg Bedard: I certainly don't mind, my life is pretty much an open book. What was it like? Well, it was tough, a lot of hard work and stressful at times, but that's what made the experience terrific. Actually, my lasting regret from Rutgers is that I stopped my baseball "career" -- only because I didn't get to play for Moose longer.
I came in as a recruited walk-on in 1992 and was banged up my freshman year, had some big hits for the "B" team later in the season (I could only DH because of injuries) after finally adjusting to college pitching. Came back revved up for the 1993 fall season and did pretty well. When we broke from fall ball, I was going to be Scotty Kassan's backup at first base. I was doing to be a late-inning defensive sub and play some during the week. But a freak accident about two weeks later caused me to need hand surgery so that year was wiped out. That's when I decided to start writing for Targum. And that set me on the road to where I am now.
I've said it many times on Twitter that Fred Hill was/is the best coach I've ever been around. He was so demanding and honest. He taught you to play and carry yourself the right way. I learned more from him in those two years than probably anybody else except my father. I was so happy to see him get win No. 1000, even though it came under some tough personal drama. It saddens me that I moved from South Florida (I was at the Palm Beach Post for 10 years) because I always saw Moose and Beef (Glen Gardner) when they would come down on the Florida swing. Fred Hill is a great man and Rutgers is so lucky to have him.
I do think my experiences helped me do the job, but it's not something you have to do. I think being in the locker room with the guys, knowing how to carry yourself in there and among players is probably the biggest thing that translates to today. Even though that was 16 years ago, I think even the youngest athletes that I cover can kind of sense that I know my way around a locker room.
OtB: As someone who didn't grow up in New Jersey (readers will have to click the Cheesehead TV article for details on that), did anything about Rutgers or the surrounding area strike you as particularly novel or strange?
Greg Bedard: Hmmm, well, living on Livingston my first couple of years -- without a car -- certainly made things interesting. The bus system and dealing with that certainly proved challenging. Can't tell you how many times I got lost driving around -- I still can't figure out 287 (north/south, east/west). But I loved my time there and wouldn't mind coming back to that area to raise my family, perhaps to cover the Jets or Giants at some point, or maybe do a little teaching. But Green Bay has been very good to us as well. It's a great place to raise a family and it's a heck of a lot cheaper.
(Yes! 287 is beyond frustrating. It was basically designed as a way for suburban dwellers to avoid ever having to step foot in cities. The splashing sound you just heard was of every anti-sprawl activist jumping headfirst into the Raritan River. -ed)
OtB: What's your general impression of Rutgers athletics in 2010?
Greg Bedard: I have to admit that since I moved up here three years ago and the birth of my twins, I don't quite follow Rutgers has much as I used to. Wish I could, but I still try to watch all of the games on TV.
Obviously Schiano has developed the program like we all hoped although I have my issues with his game-coaching. The basketball program is a wreck, which is too bad. So much potential and I had a blast going to games. Hard to believe they haven't been to the NCAA tourney since before I was in school.
I am glad that Tim Pernetti is the new AD but I wasn't a fan of how Mulcahy was shown the door. I think Tim will get things going.
OtB: Would you like to see Rutgers move to the Big Ten?
Greg Bedard: Absolutely I would, not only for personal reasons (I now live in Big 10 country) but because I think it would be a good fit academically and athletically. And college sports are moving to mega conferences. While I'm still a bit scarred for what Boston College did to the Big East, Rutgers has to set itself up now.
OtB: You've been candid on Twitter about certain Scarlet Knights making the jump to the NFL; optimistic on some, and critical of others. What I'm really getting at here is do you think Rutgers football will overtake Florida as Bill Belichick's personal farm squad? Would you care to betray any of your sources to divulge any anecdotes of interest?
Greg Bedard: Well, I know Bill and Greg are close, but Florida gets so many good athletes that I don't see that day coming anytime soon. Yes, I've been optimistic on some guys -- thought Ray Rice would be a steal for the Packers in the second round and they should have taken them -- and critical of others. I love what Mike Teel did for Rutgers with his leadership and being a great teammate, but he's not NFL QB. I was shocked somebody drafted him. I like Devin McCourty but don't think he'll be any better than a pretty good player (not elite). Also, I think Anthony Davis will bust out of the league -- BUT, he went to the best possible coach in Mike Singletary to have a chance.
I remember helping out a couple teams with background on Kenny Britt (another guy I did like coming out) and the reason for his "suspension" his final season. And when I was in South Florida, I used to suggest certain guys that Rutgers might want to look at that were flying under the radar of the big Florida schools. Suggested Omar Jacobs way back when but was told by some people at Rutgers they were set at quarterback. He had a pretty darn good career at Bowling Green but busted out of the pros.
OtB: What's it like to be in Peter King's cadre of Twitter buddies?
Greg Bedard: It's certainly an honor. Peter's one of the giants in this biz, but we have a lot in common. From him formerly living in Jersey and knowing the Rutgers program a bit to being a Red Sox fan. And he was one of the guys I consulted before taking this job. And he was right about everything. It was a great move for me and my family.
(Note: King moved to Montclair in the mid-80s while covering the Giants for Newsday, before joining SI. He later adopted Rutgers and the New Jersey Devils as his rooting interests in College Football and the NHL. -ed)
OtB Seriously, how awesome is Bob McGinn (Bedard's colleague at the J-S, who's fantastic)? Shouldn't his draft coverage get more national attention?
Greg Bedard: McGinn is one of a kind, and he was one of the reasons why Peter said I should I come up here. I've never read football coverage -- I mean x's and o's -- like what the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel does up here, and that's because of McGinn and Tom Silverstein, another stellar beat guy. I've learned so much from those guys. And, yes, his draft coverage should get more attention but it is behind our paywall -- for good reason. Even teams read his stuff.
Thanks again to Greg for taking the time to help out with this. It was but the first in a series of steps towards total Rutgers domination of the sports media. Look out Syracuse and Northwestern.