Later this afternoon, one Gary Archibald* Nova will don a shiny metallic battle scarred helmet and take the field at HPSS for the last time. It's Senior Day, and our senior QB will leave Rutgers as one of the most successful passers in Rutgers history.
So why don't so many Rutgers fans worship, adore, or even like Gary Nova?
Nova came to the Banks as a three star recruit, and Rivals ranked him as the 13th best prospect in New Jersey's class of 2011. He was previously committed to Pitt, but switched to Rutgers when ace recruiters Jeff Hafley and Frank Cignetti traded in their blue and gold Panther gear for scarlet and white.
Nova's commitment was a big recruiting win for a lot of reasons at the time. To put it in context, Nova's commitment came around the same time Tom Savage left Rutgers, and Nova helped soften that blow. He also signaled the end of a recruiting drought from North Jersey powerhouse Don Bosco Prep. This was important, because the upcoming 2012 Bosco class was loaded, with a few names you might know: Leonte Carroo and Darius Hamilton among them.
So Nova came to the Banks, amid much fanfare.
During his time on the Banks, he has completed 625 passes in 1,130 attempts (55.3%), thrown 65 TDs and 49 INTs. He has averaged 200 passing yards per game. He has won a lot of games for Rutgers, and lost a few too. He has been Supernova and also Turnova, sometimes in the same game.
He is Rutgers all time leader in passing TDs, and the only player in the country to have two games with at least 5 INTs (ttfp and Kent State).
He is probably one of the only - if not THE only - players in the history of college football who has been named the Conference Offensive Player of the week - in THREE different conferences.
He has had a lot of success at Rutgers. But even after all of that, many Rutgers fans have conflicted feelings about Nova. He is seemingly always one bad game away from Rutgers fans calling for the backup - Dodd, Laviano, Bimonte etc. - to permanently relegate Nova to the bench. Dan Duggan at NJ.com even reported this week that he received death threats after the ttfp game - that is terrifying and disgraceful.
Today is Senior Day, and Gary Nova has always been an exemplary Knight - one of our best, with a career deserving of celebration and respect. There has been no hint of off-field trouble or academic issues, he has fought through injuries, never created any issues the times he has found himself on the bench, and he has been voted team captain twice by his peers. He is not perfect, but he has given us some great memories, and has been a warrior and a leader for this team.
No matter what happens today, cheer loudly for Gary Nova - he has earned it. Thanks for being a Knight Gary. Share your memories and thoughts on Gary Nova in the comments.
*Not his real middle name - probably. I don't know what his middle name is.