The 250th Anniversary Graduation from Rutgers was a special occasion as the first sitting president to ever speak at a Rutgers commencement offered his remarks to the over 10,000 graduates in High Point Solutions Stadium. It was a big deal.
And while the speech was peppered with political points, the President also offered many of the kinds of words that many graduation speakers put forth.
Wait. The "RU Rah Rah" chant? That, my fellow Knights, is not a general Rutgers cry. It is focused on athletics. Did POTUS have a hidden meaning in his remarks? Was he actually giving a message for athletics at RU? I mean, there were some among us who saw the presence of Obama as an opportunity.
Hey, the media even had sports guys at the event.
Why? This wasn't an athletic event...or was it?
Look who posted a tweet about the event.
And who else.
Great to have President Obama as our guest speaker today. For our 250th anniversary commencement. pic.twitter.com/iNfsILzxmW— Chris Ash (@CoachChrisAsh) May 15, 2016
Even that noted athletic advocate, University President Robert Barchi, got into the act in supporting athletics on this notable day.
This speech needs some dissecting because, in truth, there was a message for Rutgers, RU Athletics, its fans, and its supporters.
Let's look at some of the President's remarks more closely.
"America merges here" [at Rutgers]
This is clearly a jab at Coach Nutjob from Michigan. Urban Meyer from Ohio and Matt Rhule from Temple (Pennsy) and Chris Ash from.....well, here but from Iowa. All coming together to face down the evil that is Harbaughism. There can be no other interpretation.
"Progress is bumpy, it always has been"
Mike Rice. Fred Hill, Jr. Tim Pernetti, Kyle Flood Julie Hermann. And then the sunshine of Pat Hobbs, Chris Ash, and Steve Pikiell. While the past has been littered with fits and starts, episodes of two steps forward and then one back, we now see progress, bumpiness and all.
"Change has been a constant in our history....we didn't fear the future, we seized the future"
Mike Rice. Fred Hill, Jr. Tim Pernetti. Kyle Flood. Julie Hermann. The Big East. The American Athletic Conference.
But then the Big Ten, undoubtedly the biggest change in Rutgers athletic history. And while, at first, we didn't fear it, we also didn't seize it. We sort of screwed it up a bit. But now! Now, we face the future with unabashed pride and hope and determination. And money!
Just a week ago....
And just three days later....
Which brings us to the next Obama shout out to athletics.
"Apathy has consequences"
We can no longer count on the state, just as we can't wait for the Big Ten money. We, as fans and alumni and supporters need to kick in the bucks. Want to see a guy who isn't apathetic about this? Try Jon Newman.
Apathy is not in his vocabulary. Well, it is, I mean he's a Rutgers grad so he knows the word. But he doesn't sit back and wait for others. He acts.
"The system isn't as rigged as you think, and it certainly is not as hopeless as you think."
We aren't getting a full share of the Big Ten money til 2021. We're behind all the other Big Ten schools. How can we compete with them? Wah...wah...wah.
Get over it! Women's soccer. Wrestling. Women's basketball. Men's lacrosse. Corey Crawford. Gabrielle Farquharson.
"....not as hopeless as you think."
"None of the great changes in our history happened right away."
Craig Littlepage, Kevin Bannon, Dick Anderson, Mike Rice, Doug Graber, Fred Hill, Jr., Terry Shea, Tim Pernetti, Kyle Flood, Julie Hermann, the Big East, the American.
Oh, what a long strange trip it's been. Painful, ugly, frustrating. But look around you now. An athletic director who understands what needs to be done and is accomplishing it. A university president who now understands that he didn't understand what needed to be done and has now gotten people to get the job done. In recent remarks at a Rutgers function, Barchi said he was a "slow learner" in that regard. A capital campaign that has vision and focus, and is on track. It's been a long time coming....but it's coming.
And one last thought for all of us [read R B1G Build and all other needs at Rutgers]:
Yes, it was clearly a speech aimed at helping Rutgers athletics, the R Fund, and boost our standing in the Big Ten. No other explanation.
Today was one to remember I love my school #RUTGERS— Corey Crawford (@crawfordbounce) May 15, 2016