“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes. Turn and face the strange. Ch-changes. There’s gonna have to be a different man. Time may change me, but I can’t trace time”- David Bowie
The Rutgers Football community was shell shocked this past weekend, or at least I know I was, when Rutgers leadership made the dramatic decision to fire former Head Coach Chris Ash 4 games into his 2019 season. As I mentioned in our round table, I was out nurturing my other passion this weekend when my husband texted me a terse, direct “Ash has been fired.” At first I wondered if it was April Fool’s day, or if he was just texting me something he wanted to happen after telling me not to check the final score of the Michigan contest on Saturday. While I believe this was the right decision, and something that Aaron was smart to call for after the BC loss, I do want to take a moment to thank Chris Ash for his dedication to this team. It may not have worked out, but I do believe that he loved these players, and had all of our best interest at heart. It is hard to fail in something you are passionate about, and he deserves our respect. Which leads me to the real purpose of this reflection, the way in which we can support our players this weekend back at SHI Stadium (still can’t get used this name. Who wants to start a nickname for our stadium a la The Big House)?
As some may know from previous posts, I have been a season ticket holder since 2008. Before then, when I was still in school, I would just make my dad take me to the games since he has had season tickets since the Terry Shea era. I have seen the program rise to the (almost) top during the Schiano era, had a cousin play for Flood, and then felt the anger when Flood did not work out and fans were calling for him to be replaced. Who knew that we would be looking on that time more favorably when Ash came in to save us 4 years ago? While we will probably not know for at least a few months who will be the next head coach to grace the banks of the ole’ Raritan, I do know something we can control as we all anxiously await this momentous decision. It starts with heading to SHI Stadium this Saturday at Noon as our beloved Scarlet Knights take on the Maryland Terrapins.
I know, I know. We are in a bad losing streak, and we are all war weary from the lack of electricity, or even scoring, each week. However, if this is how we as fans are feeling, imagine how the players feel. Getting trounced every week, to put it bluntly, sucks and the deflated look on these kids faces last week showed it all. Plus, aside from a few 5th year players, these players were recruited by Ash, and I’m sure they are feeling the shake up of what has transpired this weekend. Nunzio Campanile seems to be popular among the players, so having him take over probably provides some level of stability, but this was a dramatic move that I am sure of which they are feeling the after shocks.
You will hear me say this once, and I will continue to say it. These are 18-22 year old kids. While they may seem older sometimes given their size, responsibility, and talent, they are still kids. Ash was an adult who did not meet his job requirements, and so like any other adult in this type of situation he was relieved of his duties. These kids work hard day in and day out, and do not. They have faced the wrath of fans who seem to feel the need to critique their play and their character, and taken the weight of an army of armchair coaches on their shoulders. No one likes to lose. We are deflated and we have not been breathing football day in and day out. Before Ash left, and maybe even now, we all feel like giving up. Here’s the thing, these kids don’t have a choice.
So my request to you friends, please show up to support our players and new interim coach this Saturday. While Rutgers under Ash has shown no ability to win this season, Maryland is not a perfect team. We have beaten Maryland before in hard times, and they are far from perfect. While they devoured Howard, so have we, and while Syracuse is no pansy, they lost to both Temple and were shut out by Penn State last weekend to a higher degree than our demise to Michigan. I am not saying we will win, but I am saying it is not out of the realm of possibility. I am hoping the team will be energized by Campanile, and will be playing hard for their new coach who seems to have strong connections to his team, and will be tailoring his game plan to their strengths. This team has something to prove, and I hope they come out with energy. Also, one would hope Buh has an edge here since he coached at Maryland last season.
Regardless of the outcome, Pat Hobbs has given the fans what they have been asking for, and it is time for us to show our appreciation, support, and loyalty. These kids deserve it, and I for one refuse to be a fair weather fan like my husband. Yup, I said it. And hey, maybe the “Jersey Factor” will be what they need to get their first B1G win of the season. Stranger things have happened, and it is too early to give up hope with this tide change. Speaking of nature, the weather is shaping us very nicely for a sunny fall day. I hope to see your shining faces there.