It's been a trying couple of years up in Orangeland. Greg Robinson's tenure itself constituted a level of misery that most programs typically don't see over the course of a century. Uncoincidentally, Rutgers has only recent managed to emerge from depths brought on by a similarly disasterous hire, so I can empathize. The program has been through a lot, and 2009 was supposed to mark a new beginning with the first step of their rebuilding process under Doug Marrone. The latest outrage? ESPN exercised an exclusivity clause in their contract to bar SNY and other regional Big East Network affiliates from airing the upcoming RU/SU game, which will solely available through their 360 streaming video service.
As anyone who's followed Rutgers football can attest, rebuilding, while absolutely necessary after hitting rock bottom, won't happen over night. Marrone and Syracuse have a long and difficult road ahead of them. No matter what's said on message boards and blogs, no matter how many guido jokes on Twitter this week, it's not a process that I'd wish on any program (excepting one particular one located in South Bend). Still, obstacles were to be expected. When Marrone dismissed 20+ players off the roster after taking over, including several contributors, that was an eye-popping number on the surface, but really shouldn't have been. Happens all the time in rebuilding.
That lack of depth made any chance to be competitive this year largely doomed from the start. True, they came out firing on all cylinders in September, and regardless of any subsequent mistakes, Marrone and staff do deserve credit for those early efforts. It was inevitable that injuries would eventually start piling up, but the specific circumstances surrounding their more-recent roster attrition (e.g., Mike Williams quitting the team, those random JUCOs leaving which I didn't really pay much attention to, Arthur Jones tearing his meniscus, compounded by a loss by their basketball team to DII LeMoyne) renders any comparisons to the biblical Book of Job not entirely on the level of hyperbole, or even downright plausible.
This got me to thinking a bit, because the narrative of all these events was vaguely familiar, although I couldn't quite place exactly what I was recalling at first beyond the obvious parallels to Job. Then, it hit me all of a sudden. Take the following basic structure: unspeakable, nearly-unprecedented hardship compressed into a relative short period of time. The reasoning then follows that things could not possibly get any worse, as they have already sunk to rock bottom. There's no more ghost to give; and yet, somehow they do in such an immediately striking and painful way. And then, they sink even deeper.
You know where I've seen this all before? Months ago, I had the misfortune of reading the Wikipedia entry for the seminal 1970s band Badfinger (which I don't recommend reading for the faint of heart). Basically, they were scammed by their manager, and the resulting financial and stress caused one of the members to take his own life. Another never got over that death, and killed himself a decade later. Honestly, it's one of the most tragic stories out there which doesn't involve harm to innocent children.
Well, it was just a dumb point I wanted to make, as there's not really a lesson here beyond the chance that things can indeed always get worse. By the way, the first commentator that compares Rutgers to Squeeze in this analogy will get IP-banned.