With the 2019 Rutgers football season (mercifully) halfway over, I have been thinking about ways even the most diehard fans among us can survive the last six games of the season. Reading through the game and post-game comment threads, I am personally touched by how many of us still care (even if just to complain about how bad things are these days).
With blowout losses to Maryland and Indiana behind us, it’s hard to envision a scenario where Rutgers plays competitively in any of its remaining games (except maybe for Liberty, but who knows, they might take us to the woodshed, too). But we still care, we still watch (to an extent), and we hope for better days ahead. For the time being, however, here are some helpful tips I’ve thought of to help us all survive 2019 Rutgers football:
Take it seriously, but not THAT seriously
I get it: we care about wins and losses. Losing stinks, especially by wide margins and they’ve been occurring too frequently these days. But at the end of the day, remember these are student-athletes, football is a game, and we aren’t Alabama or some other NFL development camp-type program with national championship aspirations. To borrow a golf analogy, this is very much a “celebrate the (double) bogeys and root for the occasional par” type of season for us.
Though Rutgers has historically over-performed relative to what an outsider might expect at developing NFL-caliber talent, we should also enjoy the small victories, including hearing about recent graduates succeeding in the professional world. Given the onslaught of the transfer portal, we should also celebrate each and every player who sticks with our program for four years, especially given how things have gone down lately. I know some of us have different feelings about this, but every day I don’t see one of our bigger-name players in the portal, I smile a little bit.
Judgment of the coaching staff makes more sense – they’re adults, being paid well to coach this game, after all – but they too are human, and have families who read the comments. That being said, we went 1-11 last year, and look to be headed toward another 1-11 record this year, unless something really weird happens in the final six games. Criticism is warranted, but should be tempered given the expectations we had going into this season.
I realize each of our individual financial commitments to the program (whether via donations, parking lot passes, or degenerate gambling tendencies) vary. I’ve never been a $10,000 donation for a parking spot kind of guy – maybe I’d be more pissed off if I had more of my checkbook invested in the program (though that’d involve me having more of a checkbook in the first place). All this said, let’s try to take the results with a grain of salt and look for glimmers of hope/improvement (for example, Adam Korsak has been out-of-this-world good this season). It’ll help keep us sane.
Know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em
As a season ticket holder since 2009, I was proud to say I had never left a game as early as halftime in nine-plus season’s – at least, until last year’s Buffalo game, when the guys I tailgate with and I decided the affront to our senses we were presently watching was too much for a human being to endure. We required a unanimous decision – one dissenter and we would have stuck around. It was unanimous.
Walking back to the Black Lot, we encountered a group of tailgaters who clearly never made it to the game, and we struck up a conversation with them. It was a while back, so I’m paraphrasing here, but the conversation basically went like this:
Other group: “We’ve been season ticket holders since 2001 and we’ve never missed a game before this one. I feel like we made the correct decision.”
Us: “We’re not going to disagree with you, since we clearly just left.”
There’s a lesson in here somewhere: I think it’s to treat Rutgers Football like a poker game and don’t hesitate to get up off the table if you feel like you’re losing your mind watching it. While I am not at all suggesting getting rid of your season tickets and if you’re at SHI Stadium, you should consider taking a lap around the stadium to cool the jets, if (when) things get out of hand. If you’re at home, it might mean flipping the channel for a few minutes – I know I always turn back to the game no matter what, but just remembering patients aren’t dying on the table over 2019 Rutgers Football could be a helpful reminder.
Also, if you’re into fútbol as well as football, both of Rutgers’ soccer teams are really good this season and could use your support. Just sayin’…
Stay off Reddit, unless celebrating a victory
The best thing about Reddit is that it offers everyone a voice, and can be an informative place to catch up on breaking news, popular culture, and cat memes. The worst thing about Reddit is that it offers everyone a voice, and can sometimes descend into a mind-numbing hive mind of terrible jokes (and, yes, terrible cat memes, though I’ll always think the one with the aristocratic cat wanting to buy a boat is funny).
I lurk on the College Football subreddit, but I decided this week to hide the subreddit from my feed, forcing me to look at it intentionally. While it’s useful for keeping up to date on general news, r/CFB is first and foremost a place where people try to collect that sweet, sweet Internet karma – it is NOT a place for objective takes on Rutgers Football. Redditors take punches at Rutgers football more than is necessary, in my opinion. We’ve become a punchline, and until that changes with actual progress on the field, it doesn’t make sense to fight online against a bunch of morons hellbent on making stupid jokes at our expense. This applies to social media as well.
If you drink, have a beer (responsibly, please)
For those of us who enjoy an adult beverage, sit back when the game is on and pop one open. I save the good beer for college football season – usually Vermont IPAs like Heady Topper, Focal Banger, Sip of Sunshine, etc. This may be a tough season – it almost certainly won’t be a good season, at least as defined by wins and losses – but with the proper frame of mind and some context, hopefully we can all get through it A-OK.