It's almost as if the past decade never happened. Not that it ultimately matters one iota once the pads come on, but everywhere you look these days, there's a guy or gal with a steno pad with unkind things to say about this year's Rutgers football team. It started with a last-place prediction in the Big East preseason media poll. CBS's Brett McMurphy? Last place. ESPN's Andrea Adelson? Last place, and oh, by the way, RU's best player in Scott Vallone isn't one of the 25 best players in the conference. Dr. Saturday from Yahoo? Here's another giant steaming helping of conventional wisdom. No, being run into the ground by an incompetent offensive coordinator, and losing one of the team's best players and emotional leaders in Eric LeGrand had no discernible effect on last year's record, zilch, none whatsoever.
Basically, last year's results are set in stone. (Except when it comes to USF, who seemingly always get the benefit of the doubt no matter what the final standings are, being the TEAM OF THE FUTURE and all.) Rutgers isn't a perennial media darling like USF, and they haven't earned a lifetime pass from every sportswriter within striking distance of receiving Social Security benefits as Notre Dame has, so they're not going to get a break barring extraordinary circumstances. Oh well. No one signed up to follow Rutgers football because it was going to be sunshine and lollipops. On one hand, I mean really, who the hell cares. These projections are so clearly out of bounds that they're not worth the figurative digital paper they weren't printed on. It was one year. One year! 2006 didn't make Rutgers the next college football superpower. 2010 doesn't make them chopped liver. Or, alternatively, I've got a great pitch for guys on some red-hot Pets.com stock.
It's clearly evident from everything coming out of spring practice and preseason camp that the 2011 Rutgers football team is about par for the course for the Greg Schiano era at Rutgers. They're not going to be world beaters, but they will be respectable; most likely winning a game that they should have lost, and losing a game that they should have won. Looking up and down the roster, there's little, if anything, to distinguish the sum talent on this roster from any other Schiano offering. The preseason media meme shouldn't be debating whether they'll be in the cellar again. It should be about why Schiano can't break through past the middle of the pack, because that's exactly where this bunch are headed. The same seven or eight total wins, the same three or four conference wins, the same middling bowl (owing to the Big East being a corrupt cartel that intentionally sabotages football to keep half its members beholden to glorified Atlantic-10 programs like Providence.)