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First Principles: An introduction to On the Banks

Hello, and welcome to On the Banks, the new SB Nation blog covering Rutgers University athletics. This site previously existed for a year and a half in another form on an independent blog hosting service. In all of that time, there was never any attempt at any sort of formal introduction. If you're at all curious, continue reading below to get the gist about what this site is all about and trying to accomplish.

  • If there's any sort of grand overarching theme for On the Banks, it's one of historical revisionism. Simply put, there's a great deal of misinformation out there concerning the history of Rutgers Scarlet Knights sports. Like it is for any devoted members of an obscure sub-culture on the web, encountering those brazen dismissals tends to be really, really, annoying. The history of Rutgers athletics is actually rich and compelling, and should be reclaimed from interlopers, and celebrated far and wide.
  • The goal then is to give a more factual and representative account of the history and present state of Rutgers sports, both for the sake of accuracy, and for help with inferring future analyses with better predictive power. Above all else, this is a positivist project driven by empirical evidence and reasoning. Giving a blunt (warts and all) and fair account of both triumphs and mistakes, is all the better to help pinpoint critical mistakes, and encourage and promote decisions leading to consistent and sustainable success for the Rutgers athletic department.
  • That point cannot be emphasized enough, because the sad truth is that Rutgers athletics does have an awful lot to account for over the preceding three decades. The university and athletic department never valued fielding a competitive, high-level football team until the late 70's. That same period saw a rejection of an invitation to join the fledgling Big East, in favor of casting its lot in with Joe Paterno and his proposed all-sports Eastern conference that never ended up materializing.
  • Owing to a lack of resources and a poor coaching hire, Rutgers football cratered in the mid-to-late 90's, and has only recent begun starting to dig out of hole. That entire wretched, lost era represents by far the most traumatic and difficult era in the history of the athletic program. The only way that Scarlet Knight fans could emerge with any semblance of sanity and hope was through a folk version of what I call demographic determinism. That being, roughly, the belief that, all other things being equal, athletic success a function of some unknown combination of available resources and luck. Yes, that theory is outlandishly simple, but it is probably true in some form. It's also all we had, and hence we still cling to its comfort today as a wishful barometer what is hopefully to come.
  • This is a blog that largely supports ongoing efforts in quantitative analysis of sports. While the game of football hasn't (yet) been broken down completely in the manner of, say, baseball; providing more-informative context is admirable, and those efforts should be both applauded and carefully considered. If you're going to posit an argument, it surely ought to be grounded in sound facts and empirical evidence. The best statistical findings largely stem from regression analyses of a sufficient sample size of accumulated data.
  • For instance, advanced statistical metrics have shown that the Big East football has never been ranked as the worst of the six conferences with automatic bids to the Bowl Championship series since its lineup was in transition back in 2004. There's certainly room for reasonable people to disagree on all ranges of topics, but you may not find this site much to your liking if you're of a differing overall mindset. Don't be afraid of being wrong in the end, or of taking chances. Be afraid of not having an open mind or thinking for yourself.
  • Along those lines, I never grew up with any special affinity to the state of New Jersey. This casual indifference has slowly morphed into embittered frustration in the face of each unflattering and inaccurate stereotype. By any statistical metric, NJ is an educated and wealthy state (something this site's advertisers know well). When some yokel repeats the same old tired jokes, it's just a coping mechanism for their own miserable lives. Let's just agree that this country holds little of value outside of the BosWash corridor. Except Florida. That's where RU's team speed comes from, and it's where Nana and Bubi live. You should call them. They miss you.
  • Speaking of which, cut it with the stereotypes about Italian Americans. For the record, they are a very nice and honorable group of people, in spite of their fondness for muscle shirts. In truth, the demographics of Rutgers are nearly identical to every other university on the Eastern Seaboard, meaning the student body largely consists of a loose grouping of ugly hipsters, emo dorks, and burnouts. Get it right.
  • Continuing on that note, all references to the music of Bon Jovi are absolutely verboten. Lil 'Jovi is an utter abomination, a certain harbinger of the coming End Times. Acceptable Jersey alternatives include Bruce, Frank (as state treasures, NJ residents are allowed to refer to both on a first name basis), P-Funk, Yo La Tengo, and Danzig. Let's just all agree to pretend that The Jonas Brothers do not exist.
  • All unflattering references to Penn State and Notre Dame football are highly encouraged in your forthcoming posts and comments, if not a necessary bimonthly requirement of all community members.
  • Thank for your cooperation, and please enjoy your stay.
    -The Management