Sean from Troy Nunes Is an Absolute Magician responded to my jab at Doug Marrone earlier. It's officially the dog days of the offseason, and I'd much rather reply in kind than talk about say, lacrosse. (note: any comments about lacrosse below will result in an immediate ip ban)
Was what Doug Marrone allegedly said that noteworthy? It rated about a 1.5 on the Kiffin scale. I'm glad that Big East teams have the decency to not engage in a sleazy, SEC-style race to the bottom. Rutgers football does things the right way off the field, and so does Syracuse. However, it's just one salvo in the continued back and forth between the two programs. Even P-S Beatwriter Donnie Webb will take a shot here and there. Yeah, the internet has a way of making people into jerks, myself included. My friend Jeff went to Syracuse and he's awesome, and that has generally been my experience with their alumni and fans. On the computer screen though? Put on the platemail, grab a longsword, and mount your steed. The Scarlet Knight is Scarlet after all because his breastplate is soaked with the blood of opposing feudal lords.
As Cuse fans are quick to remind us, we've been down this road before. How far have we come from the days when the shoe was on the other foot? The prognosis was even bleaker down here, and Doug Marrone has been eerily following the early Greg Schiano script to a tee for the most part. There's that, and he seems like a decent enough fellow. Hence, many Rutgers fans did look at him favorably.
Early in Greg's tenure, there was still a cloud of uncertainty hanging over the future of the program. When you're in that kind of stressful situation, the first instinct is always to attribute away your faults as a direct cause of external factors. Anyone can screw up here and there, but sustained failure over a long period of time is the direct result of flawed decision making at the top. Similarly, you'd expect things will even themselves out eventually. Program success logically should be a function of available resources.
Rutgers fans, of course, don't think the new dichotomy as strange at all: this is what should have happened for years. RU didn't even try to have a good football team until the seventies, and was simply mediocre until Terry Shea screwed everything up. That's not to say that Syracuse won't get better down the line; they can't get much worse. But as much as RU's current success owes to their failures, they've benefitted far more from ours. We at least sort of have our bearings together now. That's a contributing factor to what's going on in Syracuse, but it's only a small piece of the puzzle.
Rutgers will still lose its fair share of local talent to bigger-name schools, but I expect to do well going forward, and make progress every year. All things being even, most players just want to stick close to home no matter where they're from. Schiano really started to convince some of the better talent to stay home over the past two and three years, and the hope here is those players will help take Rutgers up a notch from an above average program, to one at the next level that can compete to win the Big East conference every year.
If Doug Marrone turns it around, I'm fairly confident that it won't come at our expense. Look at his coaching staff. There are two assistants (Anselmo and Jackson) that recruit RU's "home" territory. The rest of them are spread all over the place (Ohio, Maryland, Pittsburgh, the South, etc...). Rutgers does 80% of its recruiting in the NYC and Philly metro areas, and fills in the gaps in the Miami area.. There are only a handful of mutual targets where both teams have realistic shots at a player. Plus, it looks like a down year in New York City and New Jersey, and Rutgers is expected to (finally) take a smaller class.
Doug Marrone knows that the Rutgers bashing is just rhetoric. When John Anselmo vowed to go after players committed to other Big East schools, stuff like that is primarily meant to excite the kind of diehard fans who post on SyracuseFan. They're not unrealistic - that's why Marrone hedged his bets by hiring a staff with ties all around the country. On the recruiting trail, RU's main rivals are Notre Dame, Penn State, and Pittsburgh (cf: The Coaches That Are Destroying America). It's strange that Cuse fans seem to fixate on Piscataway, when the BCs of the world have been eating their lunch too. Maybe (hopefully, screw them) those hypocrites will suffer at SU's expense instead.
Another one I don't like is the claim that the past four years have been an illusion, built solely on the backs of beating up on cupcakes. Well, whatever. RU fans aren't happy about the scheduling either. If someone makes that argument though, how can they subsequently insist that (1) Greg Schiano already has a foot out the door, and (2) we'll instantly return to Shea-error futility when that happens? Isn't that a contradiction? Either the team has made demonstrable progress or it hasn't.
Of course I think that Rutgers Football is just scratching the surface of what it can do over the next few years, which should hopefully include a first conference title. Syracuse? Good luck, hopefully not at our expense. Maybe it will eventually after Marrone has a chance to turn over the roster. Until then, it's just another conference game. In the meantime, all Rutgers and Coach Schiano can do is keep their own house in order.