It is once again a new era for the Scarlet Knights.
Probably the most complete fresh start in the athletic department history, the school now has a new director in Pat Hobbs, a new football coach with Chris Ash, and new hoops coach Steve Pikiell. That, in the span of just six months, is a complete overhaul.
Rutgers may no longer be same old Rutgers. That's a very good thing.
And brings me to my point: If you're a Rutgers fan, you can't be a traditionalist.
My esteemed colleague, Bob Cancro, has done a wonderful job the past week or so pointing out football traditions that may go by the wayside under new Ash. And, I'll say this right up front: I'm not exactly a guy who looks back at the past with sappy eyes. The greatest successes in Rutgers history happened three years before I was born.
Since I've been alive, Rutgers two prime sports (save for maybe a few years) have been mediocre at best and awful at worst. Basketball hasn't won an NCAA Tournament game in over 30 years, and before 2005, went to one bowl. You can talk about how a team turned a bowl down one year and how Rutgers created the game, but let's face it, beyond that it's not what you call a glorious past.
And, so, Rutgers fans, we need to break with tradition, in order for Rutgers to truly be successful.
The national media, thrives on tradition. They want Notre Dame, USC, and Alabama to be good. They want Duke, UNC and Kentucky to succeed. They want things to be the same, and they don't want the apple cart to be upset. They have their narratives, and teams/coaches they focus on.
And when a team they don't expect gets good, it throws everything out of whack. Think about the one really, truly awesome year Greg Schiano had. Think about Mike and Mad Dog questioning Rutgers at every turn, stunned during that glorious week after the Louisville game, that things were breaking right for Rutgers to be in the national title talk. Look at all the articles talking about how difficult Steve Pikiell's job is because Rutgers has never been good.
Think about the reaction of nearly everyone when Rutgers moved into the Big Ten. No one embraced it.
And you know what, Rutgers fans? Who cares?
It's a new time. Things change. And change is good. When things change, it's often for a reason. And the change here is to make things better. You can't expect Rutgers--basketball or football--to get where it needs to be without change. Change from the fans on up. That means we have to give big--actually raise real money. And the athletic department has to embrace more than just football. They have to build, and be a part of the arms race. They can't just sit their laurels waiting for a paycheck.
You can't be a traditionalist fan, because what's happened in the past hasn't been good enough. Things have to be done differently. Rutgers proved being traditional was bad, when it reached into the past and plucked out Eddie Jordan to try and save the basketball program. Eddie brought back some peace, but didn't bring back the winning ways.
Now, that doesn't mean you can honor the past. There are some wonderful names in Rutgers history. Jerseys and numbers retired. Plaques and trophies. That's all fine and good.
But we can't hold on to what's happened in the past, and do the same things going forward.
It has to be a true new era on the banks. And if Rutgers fans want to win, and by win I mean win big, you have to do things differently. Chris Ash has already begun that. I imagine Steve Pikiell is now looking at a clean slate in the way Rutgers conducts its basketball business going forward as well.
In my opinion, people cling to the past when the present isn't good. Well, folks, it looks to me like the present and the future are about to take off.
If that means letting go of the ways of the past.
I can't wait to hear Francesa in awe when he can't believe Rutgers is better than Notre Dame. I can't wait until the Scarlet Knights take down Duke in a Tournament game, when everyone can't believe they win. And then, I'll be excited when all of this because expected in Piscataway.
I can't wait for it to not be "Same old Rutgers" anymore. Embrace the different way of doing things, fans. Let's start with different, and then change to better.
And to do that, I'm willing to forget some of the traditions. Bye bye, Chop. So long, Club Ice. Adios... all right, Rutgers basketball has been so bad recently, just about everything has to go.
And, instead, hope we build some new memories.
Let's not make it easy for pundits anymore. It appears the new faces at Rutgers have embraced the idea of change. That the old ways didn't work. The fans need to as well.
Bu, let's not stand on tradition. Let's get better.
Dave White is the author of the Jackson Donne thrillers. They are mostly set in and around the Rutgers community. You can check them out at his website.