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Extending the honeymoon: patience is the name of the game

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Penn State v Rutgers Photo by Alex Goodlett/Getty Images

NJ.com’s Steve Politi is in Rio covering the Olympics. At least he’s supposed to be. It has to be hard when your accommodations are sub-par.

Actually Steve is reporting, and he also left some stuff behind, kind of like mom leaving stuff in the Tupperware for you to eat when she had to go to the PTA meeting. And he included some thoughts on Chris Ash as his first pre-season camp is getting underway.

Now, before you guys go all bonkers about Politi being negative about Rutgers or not having anything better to do (well, that may be true), consider that the idea comes from Ash:

"Things are going great," Ash told NJ Advance Media one recent morning in a wide-ranging interview. "We're on the honeymoon still. We're going along and everything is smooth right now. What are we going to do when that flat tire happens?"

And it will happen. We know it will happen, because this isn’t a fairy tale or a sweet bedtime story where the hero (take your pick: Ash, Laviano, Grant, Hamilton, et. al.) rises up and slays the dragon....every time. Without fail.

Or Lilly King stomping on the Russians.

No, this is reality. Real, D1, Big Ten, sitting-at-the-adults’-table football. And we don’t have a booster seat.

Now, I’d love it if we had no bumps in the road: no one gets hurt, we play hard all he time, we make some great plays, no off field issues. But here’s my question about the honeymoon possibly ending: how do we handle it? How do the fans, who are desperate for something to get us to forget....well, everything about the last football season, handle failure? When the news turns a bit dark, if there is a nasty blowout against [fill in Big Ten East team here], what will we be writing on the fan boards and right here at the sunshine-rainbow-unicorn blog site that is On the Banks?

Most comments about Ash have been positive, and most fans have been - in my view - pretty realistic about results. Those expecting eight or more wins are relatively few and far between, and have already been medicated. Those thinking that six wins is possible are a fairly good size plurality. And there are a substantial number that think a “step back” to five or four wins is not unthinkable.

But the constant thought and hope seems to be:

  • End the blowouts.
  • Look competent in play-calling.
  • Play hard and to the final gun.
  • Don’t spike the ball on fourth down.

Earlier today, our Aaron Breitmann wrote about Ash’s desire and passion for detail and his understanding that “coaching up” the team is the next step. Sort of what Politi was trying to point out. Ash is ready.

Are we? Right now, we’re all on board. Ash has said the right things, done the right things. He is....well, he’s not Kyle Flood. The bar may have been set low, but most of us seem to feel that he has still exceeded it far beyond all expectations.

And we have bought in....and need to continue to do that. As Aaron also wrote a couple of weeks ago, we need to be patient.

But can we be? If you were around in the late 90’s and early 2000’s, you didn’t have or need patience....you didn’t even have much interest in football! You didn’t get excited about Rutgers Football when you saw these records:

And recall that those 2001 and 2002 records belong to Schiano.

Patience.

In a round-about way (which, unfortunately is how I think), all of this reminds me a bit of the late comedian Flip Wilson’s routine about a not so scrupulous pastor. The story goes like this:

He’s the Reverend Leroy of the Church of What's Happening Now. In this particular comedy sketch, Rev. Leroy was telling the church that it has to progress

Rev. Leroy (Wilson) says "The church has gotta progress! First it's gotta crawl!" The congregation cries back with approval, "Let it crawl, Rev, let it crawl!" Then Rev. Leroy shouts, "After this church crawls, it's got to stand up and walk!" The assembly responds with enthusiasm, "Let it walk, Rev, let it walk!" Then with a lot of animation Rev. Leroy, poised to sprint, shouts "After this church walks, it's must run!" The assembly, with responded enthusiasm responds, "Let it run, Rev, let it run!" Then finally the "big sell comes" from Rev. Leroy: "And for this church to run it's gonna take MONEY." Then from the shocked, silent assembly, one person shouts out, "Let it crawl, Rev, let it crawl!"

The point is, we’re crawling (....and we do need money). And every now and then, we’re gonna stand up and take a few steps....and we’ll get really excited! And then likely lose our balance and fall....again. And we need to understand that that’s okay.

Patience.