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Sleeping Giant? Yeah, I'll go with that!

Those jokesters over at Off Tackle Empire took yet another shot at Rutgers. I missed the first go 'round in responding because I was away. Suffice it to say, I am not happy with OTE's action.


Hey, I'm back!

Uhhh, you didn't know I'd been away?  Oooh, well, better get back into it.  So, we'll start with something easy.  Poking back at our "friends" at Off Tackle Empire.

Now, we have on more than a few occasions used schadenfreude.  And why not?  Let's face it, no matter how noble we are, we tend to enjoy seeing others suffer a bit or, as I have defined it, reveling in the misery of others.

To be frank, my sense is that Off Tackle Empire was created to revel in the misery of others. It often struck me that that was OTE's raison d'etre.  I mean, it's almost the classic bully mentality: make fun of others, tease them, harass them, belittle them.  How else do you make yourself feel good when you have nothing else going for you?

We are, of course, talking about the recent OTE post Rutgers: A Sleeping Giant or a Paper Tiger? Our buddy, Ray Ransom, already responded in, for my money, a very well-reasoned and calm response.  What the hell happened, Ray? Are you taking the meds again?

OTE loves to dump on....err, everyone.  And especially Rutgers.  But let's look - again - at what alnamiusIV wrote and where he missed the point.  He tries to make three points; he didn't.  He's wrong.

Point for Point

First, he says there is no such thing as a Rutgers fan.  Really?  His backup statement was this:

As I've already mentioned, most people I've known through 43 years have been New Jerseyans and New Yorkers, and not one of them has been raised a fan of Rutgers.

Yes, Rutgers has "fans," but only in the same way Northwestern has "fans" in that it doesn't have fans; it has alumni, and that is just not the same.  [emphasis added]

In other words, of a-a-a-all the people he knows, none of them are fans of Rutgers.  All I can say is, he obviously doesn't know any of my friends.  Nor the over 47,000 people (on average) who attended Rutgers games in 2015 - a pretty crappy year on and off the field - which still put RU in ninth place in attendance in the conference.  And eighth best based on capacity percentage.  And in 2014, Rutgers had the eighth best attendance.  So, no, we have no fans.

Second, native New Yorkers and New Jerseyans don't take college football seriously. 


We have all recognized for years that the New York metro area is a "pro sports" area.  Two NFL teams, two MLB teams, two (sort of) NBA teams, three NHL teams.  Bu it also hosts - and has for 30+ years - the Big East tournament to massive crowds.  The Garden - the World's Most Famous Arena - has done just fine hosting college sports for decades.  And until the 1960s, Yankee Stadium had a storied history of hosting college football.  SB Nation's Matt Brown did a piece last fall that told that very story:

The [Army] Black Knights played 38 times at the old Yankee Stadium, with the most famous contests being a series of games against Notre Dame.... Army and Notre Dame met 22 times in the Bronx from 1925-69, including a handful of memorable and nationally important games, with several Heisman Trophy winners taking the field.

In the 1940s, when Army and Notre Dame had perhaps the two greatest dynasties in football history because of World War II, they had four matchups in which both teams were ranked in the top five. In '43, top-ranked Notre Dame shut out No. 3 Army, 26-0, behind future Heisman winner Johnny Lujack, who was playing quarterback because starter Angelo Bertelli got called to active duty (in a season in which he won the Heisman, anyway). The next two years, national championship Army teams turned the tables, beating Notre Dame 59-0 in '44 and 48-0 in '45 as West Point stockpiled the most talented football players during the war.

....the two met in 1946 in a Game of the Century type of matchup, with Army ranked first and Notre Dame second. Army shut out Notre Dame again ... but the Black Knights didn't score either. Despite the fact that there were three Heisman winners on the field (Army's Glenn Davis and Doc Blanchard, Notre Dame's Lujack), the game ended in a scoreless tie in front of a crowd of around 74,000 people. Neither team lost that season, but Notre Dame was voted the AP national champion after Army nearly lost to a one-win Navy team to end the season.

And it wasn't just Army and Notre Dame.  Fordham, which now plays at the FCS level, played in the 1941 Cotton Bowl and the 1942 Sugar Bowl (they were also invited to play in the Rose Bowl that year. The ROSE BOWL, Big Tenners!) Vince Lombardi was a guard for the Rams. College football in NYC was real...and big.

74,000 people watching college football in Yankee Stadium. There were three MLB teams in NYC then. And while the Jets didn't exist back then, there were multiple pro football teams. But you say, pro sports weren't the same then.  True.  But I would counter and say that the New York-New Jersey metro area will watch good play, regardless of the sport. They already have.

Which brings me to the reality that Rutgers was not a big school with big ambitions until the time that Yankee Stadium was hosting that last Army-Notre Dame game in 1969.  Rutgers was a small, almost local college that had no ambitions of being a big time athletic program until President Edward Bloustein pretty much decreed in the later 1970s we were going to do it. No funding, no fundraising, no promotion.  Just kinda stumble into it. And truthfully, until the last decade or so there was still no real effort to make the leap the way it was supposed to be done.  But just like in Field of Dreams, if you build it, they will come.  Or in the case here, if you promote it and do it right, they will come.  And watch.

Finally, the writer says the nature of a New Jerseyan is that he wants to leave New Jersey.  What he doesn't say is that if a New Jerseyan wants to leave New Jersey, it's likely because of high taxes or cold weather.  Which is also likely the case in Michigan or Illinois or Minnesota. He uses lines from two Springsteen songs to make his case. Really, bro?  The guy says his early formative years were in Brooklyn and he went to college - again formative years - in Pittsburgh.  How dare you quote Springsteen! He uses Born to Run:

Baby this town rips the bones from your back
It's a death trap, it's a suicide rap
We gotta get out while we're young

and Thunder Road to make his point.

It's a town full of losers
And I'm pulling out of here to win

Again....really, bro?  Read the lyrics.  Get out of this town.  Not state. The town is the little place inside the state, the big place.

He then finalizes his hopeful attack with a self-inflicted wound.

Obviously, none of this involves scientific experiments and surveys. I have no numbers to back up my argument. It is strictly because I know my people.

Admittedly, I left New Jersey in 2005, the year Greg Schiano's Knights went 7-4 and Ray Rice became the team's starting tailback, so maybe things have changed drastically....       [emphasis added]

Let's not offend anyone....wait, this is OTE?

Our writer seemingly doesn't want to offend any Rutgers fans so he adds these positive points:

  • New Jersey's 40 4-stars-or-better recruits was more than double the combined elite recruits of Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota and Nebraska. That's better than all states except the biggest of the big boys: Florida, Texas, California, Georgia, Ohio, etc.
  • I do not mean to denigrate their [Rutgers grads] fandom. Just because someone went to the school does not make him any less of a fan.
  • The (fallacious) idea that New Jersey is the Armpit of America stems very much from the condescension, as well as literal garbage, New York has always dumped on New Jersey.
  • It is true, of course, that Bruce Springsteen (and Jon Bon Jovi) moved back to New Jersey. But Bruce is living in a palace in Rumson in which he's fairly sheltered from New Jersey. Also, I bet he's got an apartment in the City. [My turn: Uhh, you bet?  Like, you're guessing?  And the fact that Bruce spends many weekends jamming at clubs in Asbury Park, that shows how he hides from being part of New Jersey]
  • Moreover, academically, Rutgers is one of the finest institutions in the country and fits right into the B1G's prestigious academic climate (which can't be said for every recently added member of the conference).
  • New Jersey does have a strong recruiting base in common with elite programs like Ohio State, Florida, Texas and Georgia....
  • I have every belief that Chris Ash could turn Rutgers into a respectable, competitive program that regularly goes to bowls and every once in awhile, beats one of the B1G East juggernauts.

Hey, are you attacking us?  Okay, attack.  But don't come back trying to make nice-nice.  That's very un-Off Tackle Empire.

Parting shot

His and mine.  His closing comment is, again, just his thought without foundation:

As for Rutgers, consistent mediocrity is its ceiling, and even if it does reach consistent mediocrity, nobody in New Jersey will care all that much.

Just like we really don't care about what he thinks.  Yeah, that's my final thought.