I think we all started doing the whole TTFP thing as a celebration of the return of a true blue rival that we could all get behind hatin' on. Yeah we had Cuse and UConn, but this was on a different level and we all had revenge on our minds after years of abuse at the hands of our neighbors to the West. It was a fun way to rile up a relatively stodgy fan-base and we certainly had some good times with it.
We all loved the gamesmanship that Flood was bringing to the table, but even he signaled last week that the meme had run it's course. In recent interviews before his suspension was handed down, he referred to the Team from Pennsylvania by their proper moniker: Penn State. I think we should follow suit.
Why? There are a few reasons.
1. Those Who Live in Glass Houses...
At first, many around the Big Ten hated the idea of Rutgers joining the Big Ten. We were the nouveaux riche to their old money; the trashy Jersey boys and girls who loved Jersey Shore, The Real Housewives of New Jersey, and actually lived lives like The Sopranos. As they got to know us, via On the Banks, Off Tackle Empire, at games, and via the Big Ten Network, that impression changed. People began to see the true nature of New Jersey; the heritage, the pride, and the frustration that we all feel. We started to become family.
The Big Ten is not turning away from Rutgers, but all of the good will built through the sportsmanship and camaraderie of the fanbase has been spoiled by a few bad apples and the reaction of our bumbling administration. It's not fair, but it's human nature. We are now looked upon as a joke by every community in and out of sports, on a local and national level.
We have a long way to go to earn back that respect. It starts with recognizing our closet conference brother in Penn State.
Also, we may want to take it easy on calling the Maryland Terrapins "The Derps."
2. PSU Fans Have Been Good to Us
The past few weeks haven't been easy for Rutgers fans. While we may disagree on what should happen moving forward, why we got to where we are, or even who the starting quarterback should be, I think we would all agree that this has been one of the toughest years to be a Scarlet Knight fan in recent memory.
As the Rutgers Football that Schiano and Pernetti built - that Flood and company grew - fell apart around us, I found myself seeking out the hate, as if to cauterize the wound, or maybe just to find someone to vent at. Naturally, the first place I went was Black Shoe Diaries, the outspoken and admittedly hilarious home of the Nittany Lions on SB Nation. Navigating to the article about Carroo getting suspended, I jumped into the comments section, preparing to be bombarded with hate. Instead, I got a bit of a different reaction:
Friendly banter? Clever commentary? Had I actually found an internet wormhole back to OTB?
Monty Python references? Tasteful gifs? This didn't feel right, so I peaced outta there and tried to troll the intertubes for some real abuse.
Fortunately/unfortunately, there was little to be had at the hands of the Penn State faithful. On SB Nation, on Twitter, even on the Off Tackle Empire "writers" Slack chat, there was intelligent discussion and heartfelt sympathy from true fans. People who understood what it was like to have something you love so much destroyed by the actions of so few.
I've always had a specific opinion of Penn State fans and - while they may not be perfect - my opinion of them has certainly changed over the past few weeks.
3. Where It Really Matters, Penn State and Rutgers are Close Allies
It's fun to have a rival in football. We get at it on the message boards, we have fun mocking each other, we really want our team to win that one game (I mean, if we lost every game but PSU and MD, we'd all probably be alright with the season).
However, being geographically and ideologically aligned public research institutions means that RU and PSU's collaborations in the classroom and in the lab are far more important than any athletic contest. From membership in the CIC to the B1G Cancer Research Consortium to individual research projects, the familiarity that breeds contempt on the field also ties us inextricably together where it really matters.
If the past few weeks have taught us anything, it's that we need perspective on what's important and what's not.
Moving forward, the most important thing to me is to be a good representative of Rutgers, a respectful envoy of the State of New Jersey, and a good citizen of the Big Ten. I encourage all of my fellow Rutgers fans to do the same thing.
Oh Yeah, Also PENN STATE IS GOING DOWN!
Now, does this mean we should roll over this weekend vs. the Nitty Kitties? No way in hell!
I want to see an out and out domination. I want to see 10 sacks for Hack and another 10 for his backup when Coach Hype invokes a mercy benching. I want to grown men crying at the sight of the Scarlet Knights marching up and down the field. I want to see our band outband their band. I want to go 1-0 vs. a solid Big Ten team and start evening up that historically lopsided win-loss record against our #Trivalry foes.
However, I will do so with respect, with dignity and with a knowledge that - like fighting brothers - when the game is all over, we'll act with sportsmanship, collegiality and behavior worthy of the Big Ten Athletic Conference.