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30 Reasons for 30 Days - Day 14: The Cannon and Crew

Norfolk State v Rutgers Photo by Andrew Burton/Getty Images

From now through September 3rd, I am posting a daily reason why it is great to be a fan of Rutgers football. There are a lot more than thirty, but I picked my thirty reasons, and hope you like them. If not, be sure to let me know.

One of the more interesting and different things about football games at Rutgers is what occurs when the home team scores. We have an entire cannon crew, dressed in late-1700’s attire that sets off a Revolutionary War-era cannon. It has an interesting history.

Last fall, Andre Malok of wrote a great article about the history of the current crew. It is worth a read. If you’d rather watch about Jack Nelson, who portrays Colonel Henry Rutgers at each home game since 1976, here’s the video version:

Jack does a great job, and is well respected on campus for his dedication and his respect for Rutgers traditions. Those of you who are old enough to remember the old stadium will remember how Jack and his crew were set up on the hill. When the stadium was redone in the 90s, the cannon and crew still held a place on the hill. When the stadium was changed from a U-shape to an oval in 2009, the crew was moved to the other end of the stadium, in front of section 112. They have less room than in the past, but are careful to ensure safety when they fire after a score. Here’s a great shot of the group preparing to fire the cannon after a score.

However, everyone doesn’t love the cannon crew. In fact, last year, when Ohio State came to High Point Solutions Stadium, Bucky, the tOSU mascot, mocked the fact that the cannon crew had nothing to do all evening until moments before the end of the game. Kevin Trahan of SB Nation had a brief article with a video of Bucky’s antics.

The bottom line is that cannons are not unusual at college football game. However, our cannon crew is a uniquely “Rutgersian” item. Other schools have cannons, such as the service academies Annapolis and West Point (absolutely appropriate), and other schools like Texas, Texas A&M, Missouri, and to a miniature degree Clemson (literally) all have one, but with the crew in period dress, and tied to our colonial beginnings, it is definitely unique.

Thanks to Jack and his team, our cannon is yet another reason why it is great to be a Rutgers football fan.