One of the most die hard Rutgers fans out there. Let's hear his story.
OTB: So, let's start. You talked about your fandom in your post, but let's talk Rutgers. What draws you back to the teams year in and year out? Football has had a nice run, but it's pretty recent. And hoops... 21 years?
Frank Wrublevski III: Lets start with football. I played football my entire life including one year in college at Kean. I have always loved the game and espcially college football. As far as Rutgers goes I would say that two of my favorite players of all time are Devraun Thompson and currently Khaseem Greene. To me these guys embody Rutgers football. Hardworking, tough, NJ kids. Players like this have been around before for RU, but not on talented teams like this. To me a guy like Malik Jackson who used to play linebacker for us our Jim Gurantano who played receiver were just these tough as nails players. I knew if we could get 22 of these type of players we would make that step into getting back to bowls. That is exactly what we did in 2005. We had a bunch of players who worked their tails, but in the grand scheme no real superstar players coming out of high school. Guys with chips on their shoulder who may have got passed on by the Miami and Syracuse's of the world at the time.
People continually ask me what NFL team I watch and root for. I tell them that I don't really have a team, because I love college football so much. It comes down to the passion, pagentry, and tradition. It only helps that we are a little better the last few years. Ever since I was kid I remember watching games at the Stadium and always tailgating 3 hours before every game. It has taken on a new monster and we are always in the lot 10 hours before the games now. There is now place I would rather spend a Saturday afternoon then at Rutgers Stadium.
It will be 22 this year but who is counting. My love for RU hoops in general started when I to young to remember. I do remember being at the NCAA tournament in 1989 and 1991. The memories are vague, but I have seen it in my lifetime. It is funny how quick 22 years have passed by. 5 different head coaches, 2 conferences, and what seems like 2343 transfers. I always thought hoops would make it before football did. At one time people actually considered RU a basketball school. A few players that stick out for me in my years are Steve Worthy, Rob Hodgson, Joel Salvi, and Rashod Kent. I would say that if I made a top 5 of my favorite RU players these guys would have to be on there and throw in Quincy Douby for good measure. These guys to me all embodied hope. They were all all stars on mediocre teams in my opinion. They were all one piece of a puzzle away from being on great teams, but it just never happened.
The hardest thing to explain to people is why am I such a big RU fan but never went to Rutgers. The reason I do not give up on the team is I am just waiting for anyone to get excited about RU basketball. So the diehards can say we have been there since the beginning. It is much easier dealing with basketball loses like I have mentioned before. I do not want to use a Schianoism, but we have been so bad for so long, I have decided to literally break each game down into a one game season. How have we played lately. The feeling my father and I going to the bowl game in Arizona was one of the best weekends of my life. I can only imagine what would happen if we made the NCAA's again.
We have had some Cubs like moments in my opinion over the years as well. Naked free throws, Worthy running into the ref and sealing our fate in the 92 NIT (no one else besides maybe Steve Worthy and I even remember this or care). The Yinka Dare tip-in. That one was classic. The sad thing is there are all mediocre moments. The sit in during the Umass game, and then Camby is allowed to play in the second half at the Spectrum. Ridiculously bad luck and burdened people are Rutgers fans.
A couple of my Rutgers fan buddies and I play what we like to call the RU basketball transfer drinking game. If you can name three transfers, the opponent has to take a shot. Glen Stokes (Monmouth), Josh Sankes (Holy Cross), Dahntay Jones (Duke). Shot! So many players have jumped ship I am surprised I haven't as well.
OTB: What's your Saturday afternoon football tradition? Tailgate?
FW: Our Saturday afternoon tradition as evolved o ver the years. We do not plan holiday parties, or family reunions. We start planning for Rutgers tailgating in about March for the September games. We will randomly pick out supplies for games when they are on sale throughout the year.
Tailgating on Saturday is like a religious experience. If it is a 12PM game we get to the lot at 2AM. Our logic is that my father and I are too excited to sleep and will be to anxious to get there anyway so why not set up early. Sports Illustrated named us Rutgers best Tailgate in 2007 for our loyalty, setup, and party atmosphere. Our trademark at the tailgate is our dancing skeletons that people have seen decked out in RU gear. They have evolved into thematic signs for every home game. If we had a $1 for every person that took pictures with them or of them we would have our Orange Bowl money by the time January 1 rolls around.
We don't miss home games and try to make it to as many away games as possible. We flew to Arkansas this year, and will have made drives to Temple and Pittsburgh. For games that we don't make on the road it is usually a party atmosphere at either my house or my sisters house.
OTB: Top 5 hoops games of the past 20 years? Why?
Top 5 Hoops. This list is nearly impossible for me.
1998 Big East Tournament Quaterfinal: Geoff Billet makes a buzzer beater from the line that sends us into a frenzy. I was about 15 rows up from the foul line going insane.
2011 against Florida. Rosario returns and gets stunned at the RAC. It seems like transfers or recruited homegrown players always burn us, see Troy Murphy for proof.
1991 - NCAA tournament game. Might be the last chance I get to see for a tournament birth. Mine as well have been 1891 at this point.
1989 -A10 final. Although I was only a kid, this was the biggest RU sporting event I have ever been to. That includes Pandemonium in Piscataway.
2012 - Rutgers vs. SHU at the rock. We got the W and I was able to throw a party for 150 RU faithful which benefited the Eric Legrand Believe Fund, prior to the game in Newark.
OTB: Football Top 5:
FW: Insight Bowl 2005 - 21 Years of frustration for me as a RU fan was washed away.First point in which I thought that we arrived.
1988 vs. Penn State - My first trip to Happy Valley and we pulled out a W. As a four year old I was also stunned. I always tell the story of how I almost died in Happy Valley. We won the game. As my father and I are walking out of the stadium a cup lands a foot in front of me. Some typcial Penn state dropped a soda off the back of the upper deck. If I was any faster I wouldn't have made it.
1992 Homecoming - Va Tech Halloween. My dad always told me we couldnt leave a game early no matter what. This sums it up. 50 -49. Last second game winning touchdown in the old Stadium. Doug Graber is King!
Rutgers vs. Cuse - 2011 . Not the most important game in RU history but I will never forget the look on the Cuse fans faces as they left depressed losing that game. Our list trip to the dome (probably ever). Nothing like winning on the road and gloating like proud New Jerseyans.
OTB: Finally, thoughts on the Big Ten move?
FW: Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would ever move to the Big Ten. This immediately doubles our relevance in college football and basketball. Hell, if we had college hockey I would be all in at this point. The money that is going to be rolling into this place will renovate the RAC to look like the Taj Mahal. I can not wait for the possibilities in the next few years. I have no other words to say because I am completely stunned.
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