I come to you as a dying breed.
I am a Rutgers basketball fan first. There aren't many of us left, we dwindle in numbers, but we are still here. We like football, but want nothing more than to see our beloved Scarlet Knights in the NCAA Tournament one day.
Let's get to it, Rutgers basketball is currently terrible. Right now, we are staring straight down the barrel of an 0-18 conference season in coach Eddie Jordan's third year. They are ranked as the worst power conference team in the nation by KenPom.
We are the butt of jokes throughout the nation.
"At the moment, Rutgers is a dumpster fire." Tony Kornheiser on @PTI— Adam Zagoria (@AdamZagoria) January 19, 2016
One blogger wrote an entire article about where Rutgers hoops would finish in every conference in the nation. (Hint, it's not good.) I won't link the article here, mostly because I can't find the link, and secondly because I don't want to submit myself to that again. Even our good friends at Off Tackle Empire like to remind us how bad basketball at our beloved alma mater is. You know, 'cause that's fun.
But an even weirder thing has happened. I first noticed this back during the infamous Mike Rice controversy, and it's only gained momentum since then. Rutgers football fans hate Rutgers basketball first fans. Well, maybe hate is a strong word. They, however, love to bust chops of Rutgers basketball fans. Especially me.
They often do it without realizing it (calling basketball "squeaky shoes" or "shooty hoops"--which is effectively like me calling football "grunty kick push"), or love to break out my favorite phrase "drives the bus". It's a deflection tactic, I think. It's a way to make sure that Rutgers football isn't tied to the hapless hoops team. But it is also a way to remind fans of basketball not to get too big for their britches (although, seriously, we're about to go 0-18 in conference. How is that even possible?) There are constant refrains to shut the team down and use the funds for football (even though that would likely get the team kicked out of the Big Ten... you need more than one revenue sport).
And, as a Rutgers basketball fan first, these things end up floating into my Twitter feed. People can't help it. You may have heard I've written books. The next one, called An Empty Hell (pre-order here, natch), is a favorite amongst our own football fans.
Or my weekend plans get a good chuckle too:
@Dave_White going to a Basketball game on campus? *ducks*— Brian Bonder (@bonderb) January 25, 2016
I tend to wonder what's next. Will I be pulled over on my way to the RAC, just so a Rutgers grad cop can tease me? Maybe someone will hire a skywriter to puff out Rutgers' record over my home. It's not enough to root for a bad team, everyone else needs to let you know they're bad.
Yes, I know that Rutgers basketball is a bad team. Adjective not strong enough?
Listen, I get that it is all in good fun (well maybe not Crimson Quarry) and I can laugh at most of it--and it's not all football fans. But football fans, ask yourself, does this go both ways? Because I've made a few subtle digs (okay, fine, not so subtle--but, um, you started it.) at football over the years, and no one chuckles. People despise when football gets made fun of. Whereas, the joking against Rutgers basketball comes with a "put your head down and just take it" vibe.
Like some of you want hoops to stay bad, just so you have something to kick around.
However, realize that trashing an athletic program hurts the branding of your school--having a bad, verging on embarrassing, team hurts. I hate to break it to everyone, but football is not the only sport at Rutgers, and people see what's going on with the hoops team. Let's hope the hoops team gets the support it needs to make the next step and become competitive--or even good. Football has proven it's possible.
Until then, let the basketball first fans suffer in peace.
Or, while we wait, pre-order my book. It features a few basketball coaches and our favorite sports columnist.
And there are explosions.
Also, I need the distraction until spring.